After divorce, there are changes in family life such as selling the family home and setting up two households, remarriage, and new employment. These changes are ideally anticipated and are reflected in the divorce decree.
When your minor children are involved, included will be the order directing custody, visitation, child support, and medical care as part of the divorce. But as you can imagine new situations can render an existing order unworkable. You may need to consider requesting a modification after divorcing to address problems or situations.
What Grounds Are Available For Modification In Texas?
Anytime you have a substantial change of circumstances, you can request a modification to your divorce order. Most people request these changes for:
• Child support (increase or decrease)
• Child conservatorship (changes to custody)
• Child access and possession (visitation schedules)
• Spousal support (alimony)
For instance, if one parent becomes disabled or unemployed, and can’t pay the same amount they were ordered by the court, he or she can request a reduction in the amount of monthly child support payments. The order can be temporary if the parent believes he or she can return to the previously ordered amount or permanently reduced if they can’t. Another example is if a parent has gotten a new job or position which requires them to relocate, changes in visitation schedule and support will be needed. Visitation can also be updated when children are older, move to new schools, or if a parent’s work schedule changes.
How To Modify Your Order Post-Divorce
Getting a modification is not a difficult process, especially if both parents agree that it’s needed.
An uncontested request for modification is one in which both parents agree. It requires that both parents sign the forms to file for the change. If the other parent does not agree, does not respond, or fails to appear in court, the modification can be granted by default.
If the other parent does not agree, then they can file a response challenging the petition for modification, the suit is then considered “contested.” The case will then be decided by negotiation and a court hearing as needed. While you could do this without an family law attorney, like Wendy Hart, it’s better to have an attorney, especially if the case becomes contested. An attorney will help guide you and help negotiate a solution that can address the reason for the modification.
When it comes to child support, parents can get a modification in child support if it has been more than three years since the order was made or last modified, and the monthly amount of the child support order differs by either $100 or 20% from the amount that would have been awarded according to Texas’ child support guidelines.
If you and your former spouse decide to make changes without going through the court, the court cannot enforce these arrangements. For instance, if one party agrees to a reduced visitation schedule based on their work schedule, but then changes their mind, the court has no power to force that parent to continue with the reduced schedule. The original order is in place and you won’t be able to require the other parent to comply with any informal arrangements.
If you and your former spouse are considering changing the schedule permanently, speak with a family law attorney to ensure that these changes comply with your divorce order, or if a modification will be needed.
Contact Wendy L. Hart For Modification Assistance
Family law attorney Wendy Hart serves clients in Tarrant, Ellis, and Johnson counties. If things have changed since your divorce was finalized, you can request a modification of your child visitation and child support orders. Wendy L. Hart has been working with families in these counties for more than 20 years. When it’s time to update your post-divorce order, she can help you through the process.