Our child custody agreements are outdated and I would like to file a modification to address our parenting time.
I would like to keep my scheduled visitation with my daughters on Thursday nights, but I need to file a modification allowing me to take them to ballet practice on Wednesdays.
How can I get this modification to take effect? Can my ex-wife and I just reach an agreement and change the order on our own. If I have to file a modification with the court, is this something I can handle on my own or is it more complicated that would required a divorce lawyer’s assistance?
I am not licensed to practice law in your state so I cannot offer legal advice on divorce. However, I can give you general divorce tips for men that may be helpful to you.
Under Texas law (where I practice), a court shall specify in a standard possession order that the parties may have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties and, in the absence of mutual agreement, shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in the standard possession order as provided in your Final Decree of Divorce.
In other words, you and your ex-spouse can agree to keep your scheduled visitation on Thursday nights while also allowing you to take your daughters to soccer practice on Wednesday nights.
If you can agree to a change in the schedule, try to get the agreement in writing and signed and dated by the parties.
In contrast, if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree to these terms, a Motion to Modify might need to be filed with the court depending on your specific circumstances. It sounds like you want to modify the possession schedule, as opposed to conservatorship.
Under Texas law, the court may modify an order that provides for the possession of or access to a child if the modification would be in the best interest of the child and:
1) the circumstances of the child(ren), a conservator, or other party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of: (a) the date of the rendition of the order; or (b) the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based;
2) the child is at least 12 years old and has expressed to the court in chambers the name of the person who is the child’s preference to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; or
3) the conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child for at least six months. (See Section 156.101 of the Texas Family Code.)
The key to modification is whether the proposed change would be in the best interest of the child(ren) and whether the circumstances have materially and substantially changed.
Although you may be able to file a Motion to Modify on your own, you probably need to speak to an experienced family law attorney in the county where your divorce decree was filed for specific divorce advice for men.
To set up an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyer, including Erin E. Clark, an Associate Attorney in the Fort Worth, Texas office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.