Many marriages in Fort Worth, Texas, and Tarrant, Texas, end in divorce. When that happens, family law allows for modifications of the divorce decree. Modifications are rarely made in regards to property division, but are made often in child-related areas, such as custody and visitation. Indeed, within one family, modifications may be made several times between when the children are young and when they graduate high school.
Parents can informally make modifications by agreement. They are free to do, provided that the modifications are in the best interests of the children. However, their duties and rights will not officially change unless the modifications are approved by the court.
In other cases, one parent may want modifications that the other parent objects to. In those cases, the parent who wants the modifications will need to secure court approval despite the objections of the other parent. When they do so, they will likely go in front of a judge or associate judge. However, in some cases, they may go in front of a jury.
A common modification is the amount of time that each parent gets to spend with the children. In Texas, a parent who has sole custody of the children most of the time is called the sole managing conservator, while the other parent is called the possessory conservator. If the parents have joint custody, they are both called joint managing conservators.
Modifications to the status of each parent may be pursued in court. When doing so, a parent will want to show that either the circumstances of one or both of the parents have changed, or that the circumstances of the children have changed. Those changes need to be material and substantial. Alternatively, a parent seeking to become sole managing conservator can show that the parent who currently has that status is a danger to the children. The parent seeking the modification can also make a case for him or herself being a better match for that status than the parent who currently has it.
Source: FindLaw, “Information About Modifying Your Divorce Decree,” accessed Oct. 12, 2017