Custodial arrangements can they be modified?

Recently on our legal forum a divorce dad asked, “I had a difficult job when I got divorced, and I knew I could not really take care of my children. I agreed to a custodial agreement that did not allow me to see my kids very often. Now that I have a less demanding job I am wondering if I can get the custodial agreement updated. I really miss my children.”

Many couples struggling through divorce agree to arrangements that really might not be ideal, especially for the long-term. Whether you job was too demanding, you just wanted to get the divorce details finalized, or you were tired of paying high attorney fees, the reason does not matter. What you need to do now is make an honest assessment of your situation and what you think is in the best interest of the children.

Is your ex-wife willing to change the custodial arrangements?

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether your ex-wife is willing to negotiate the custodial arrangements. If yes, then the easiest solution to your problem is to have a conversation with her. Tell her how your schedule has changed and how much you’d love to spend more time with the kids. In some cases, you may be able to get exactly what you want without the hassle of going back to court.

If your wife is unwilling to give you more time with the children, however, you can talk to a divorce lawyer and take more aggressive legal steps to have the custodial arrangements modified.

Steps to modify custodial arrangements in your state

Now, wanting to modify your custodial arrangements and having the ability to do so may be two separate issues. The first step to determine whether or not you can modify your custodial agreement will be to review the laws of your state.

For example, if you live in the State of Texas you can only modify your custodial arrangements under specific conditions:

  • It is in the best interest of the child
  • The circumstances of the child or parent have substantially and materially changed
  • The child is at least 12 years old and has requested a change
  • The custodial parent has agreed to voluntarily give custody to another person

Given the list above, if you lived in the State of Texas, you might be able to argue several elements. For example, if your child is older and they have told the judge they want to see you more, their request could be enough to get the order modified.

Additionally, if you are a good parent, you may be able to prove to the court that it is in the best interest of your child to spend more time with you. Finally, if your ex-wife agrees to the change you should have little difficulty in getting the agreement finalized.

Bottom Line:

Getting a child custody order modified may be possible if you can prove several elements of your case. It may be easiest to first negotiate with the custodial parent, but regardless of whether your ex-wife agrees or not, you might want to formalize all agreements by having the court modify the child custody order.

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