Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

How to navigate changes to a divorce decree

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2021 | Divorce

Life is complicated, and sometimes the best-laid plans can fall short. This is especially true for couples who have gone through divorce, negotiating or fighting for custody, visitation and child support, but who are now pursuing paths that have different schedules, different expectations, and are sometimes in different states.

Often, parents may try to adjust to one parent’s new schedule or location with informal arrangements, trying to keep the overall structure of pickups, drop-offs, or weekend trade-offs that were in the original agreement. This can unfortunately lead to spontaneous changes that will cause confusion or tension, potentially creating instability for the child. More importantly, such changes are unenforceable without the court’s intervention.

Modifying existing court orders

When the court considers changes to an existing divorce decree, it must first determine if the change in circumstances of one or both parents is substantial enough to justify altering court orders. In determining any modifications, the court will also factor in what is in the best interests of the child.

Reasons for a modification can include one parent’s move out of state, a change in cost of living that affects the custodial parent’s ability to pay for the children’s expenses, or a job loss that impacts their quality of life. Other reasons for one party to request a change are if the existing terms are no longer workable due to changed circumstances, or if one parent moved without giving 60 days’ notice to the other parent.

There are other things to consider. A child support agreement can become burdensome to the noncustodial parent over time, for example if the original agreement has not included the financial contributions that this parent has made during visitation swaps involving trips on vacations or holidays. Support modifications will deduct these expenses from the amount that this parent has been paying.

Divorce modification in Texas

In Texas, the court may grant a modification of an agreement for conservatorship, child support, or periods of possession, also known as visitation. If the children of Texas parents have lived in another state for at least six months, the custody hearings must take place in the state in which they reside.

Life does go on, and often plans must change as well. When making difficult decisions about modifying an existing divorce settlement, it can help to examine all the options you have before proceeding. In general, it is necessary to wait one year before requesting a modification.