Sometimes a teenager may want to live with the other parent, in spite of a current custody order. Such a change can seem disheartening and may make you feel rejected. But such a change may be the right thing to do for your teenage child. Before making a change, make sure you and your child and the other parent have some good conversations about the benefits or disadvantages of a change. If legitimate reasons for the change have been identified and everyone agrees, then a formal modification thorough the courts should be done to make such the change legal.
Changing custody should not be done at the whim of the teen or because the child doesn’t like the rules at one parents home. If your teenager is serious about wanting to make a permanent change, then he or she can wait till it is done with thoughtfulness and consideration. The parents will need to know if child support payments will need to be recalculated or eliminated. A parent should not take a child to live with them just to avoid or eliminate child support. The parent being asked to take their teen may be concerned about the added responsibility and supervision they will be required to take on. If the teen is moving into their father’s home and their dad has a new wife and family, will that be an easy transition for the teen to blend into the other family. These are just some things to consider before making a decision. Consulting with a custody attorney can help gather some answers on child support, the cost of making a new custody agreement, and the legal procedure with the court.
What Is Physical Custody?
Custody is made up of two parts: legal custody and physical custody. Usually both parents share legal custody of their child which means both share in the decision making for things like education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody means where the child lives physically the majority of time. For example a teen may live during the school week with mom, and live with dad on select weekends and certain overnights. When a child goes to live with the other parent, you are changing the physical custody. For practical purposes a child’s physical custody is often with one parent and the other parent has visitation.
The non-custodial parent has a schedule for visitation that both the parent and the children are required to follow. If it is decided that your teen will switch physical custody then a new visitation schedule will also have to be designed with the new non custodial parent’s time and work schedule in mind.
At What Age Can A Child Pick Their Custodial Parent?
After the age of 12, a child can request to speak with a judge in person to discuss reasons for living with the other parent. One or both parents must make the request for the child or in some cases a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the child. But the child’s request is not the primary consideration to decide the child’s wish to change their custodial parent.
Decisions are made in the best interests of the child. If the judge sees the child is being coached, or if the child wants to live with the lenient parent, the court will likely deny the request. A teen may not always get along with their custodial parent, but the court will weigh things like safety, stability, supervision, and financial security in making the decision about what is in the best interest of the child. For example, say a father works a night shift 4 evenings a week, and the teen would be left alone and unsupervised, a court may decide that the teen would be better served in the mom’s home where mom is home every night and can ensure the teen is properly supervised and cared for.
The laws that govern changes in child custody are in Section §153.009 of the Texas Family Code.
Parents sometimes make their own agreements to temporarily accommodate their teen but it is not recognized by the courts, is not enforceable, and child support is not reversed. If things are working out and everyone likes the new arrangement, then the parents may want to consult with a family law attorney to see what’s involved in making it permanent.
One or both parents can file a petition for modification of the custody order. Usually having a lawyer experienced in the process makes it easier on the parents and if there is some conflict, the lawyer can help resolve the issues so a new plan can be drawn up that everyone can live with. The petition to modify with supporting documentation can be properly submitted and the judge can approve the petition and issue a new order. In Texas, custody orders can be modified once every three years.
Let Attorney Wendy L. Hart Help With Custody Issues
If you are seriously thinking about changing your custody order, speak with Fort Worth family law attorney, Wendy Hart. Ms. Hart is a highly experienced family law attorney who has helped many clients across Tarrant County with child custody issues. If your teen wants to live with the other parent it can be done, but such decisions must be entered into with careful consideration. Attorney Hart can help you and your co-parent make a good decision. If a change is not wise, both parents will be able to understand and explain to the teen why such a change cannot be done and the family can explore other ways the teen can spend more quality time with their non custodial parent. Contact the The Law Office of Wendy L. Hart by using our online contact form, or call us at (817) 842-2336, for an appointment.