Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Can You Contest a Child Custody Decision?

Child custody cases can be contentious, even with the help of an expert family lawyer. If you’re not happy with the court’s decision, what options do you have? It’s possible to request a child custody modification in Houston, TX. However, there are rules in place to ensure that dissatisfied parents don’t overburden the court system. Here’s how you can contest a child custody ruling.

Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Can You Contest a Child Custody Decision?

How Child Custody Decisions Are Made

Texas law requires that courts rule in the best interest of the child. The court looks at several factors, including the work schedules of both parents, their income, living situation, and whether or not any abuse has taken place. Ultimately, the court tries to give the most custody to the parent that can provide the safest and most productive environment for the child.  

Nevertheless, there is some bias in the court system. Fathers, for instance, are often given less consideration than mothers due to the traditional view of the mother as the primary caregiver for children. Even though the law states that courts should approach the issue with a gender-neutral view, that does not always happen. A father’s rights lawyer can help men get the proper consideration they deserve in court.

Requesting a Child Custody Modification in Houston, TX

If you feel that the court’s decision was incorrect, how can you overturn it? One option is to appeal the court’s decision immediately. However, this must be done within 30 days and is unlikely to result in any meaningful changes. Another option is to request a child custody modification through the court. You can request specific changes to the existing agreement using this method.

However, in order for the court to grant a modification, one of two things must happen. You must either reach a mutual agreement with your former spouse and file for the modification together, or you must demonstrate to the court that circumstances have changed so significantly as to merit a reevaluation of the case.

Changing Circumstances

Recall the questions that you were asked in your initial custody hearing. How might your answers be different today? If your circumstances have changed considerably, you may be able to change some conditions of your custody agreement. For instance, if your former spouse was granted majority custody because they had more time to spend with your children, you may be able to petition for a modification if your work schedule has changed significantly.

Similarly, if you were asked to pay child support due to having a larger income, you may ask for an adjustment if your income has been reduced or if your former spouse’s income has increased. You’ll need to provide evidence of these substantial changes to support your request for a modification. Your divorce lawyer in Houston, TX can help you file your child custody modification properly. However, the process is much easier if you can reach a mutual agreement.

Modifying by Agreement

Although it can be difficult to reach an agreement after a contentious divorce, doing so will avoid additional court fees and visits to the courthouse. It’s best to have an experienced family lawyer help you with your modification, even if you have reached a mutual agreement. In order for the agreement to be valid, it must be presented in the proper format and filed with the correct court. Lawyers can make sure your agreement goes through properly the first time.

Modifying Without an Agreement

If the other parent refuses to accept your proposal, despite evidence supporting your claim, then you may need to file a petition for the court to hear your proposal. Generally, the court will not hear any petitions for custody modification unless there has been a significant change in your circumstances. Significant changes include an income change of 20%, a change in residence, or the child’s own desire to live with a different parent.

Furthermore, at least a year must pass before you can challenge a child custody order. The court will first require the parents to attend a mediation session to attempt to reach a mutual agreement without the court’s intervention. If this fails, your family attorney can then help you request a modification under what’s known as a “contested modification”.

Other Possible Modifications

Since child custody agreements are usually part of a divorce decree, it’s also possible to modify other parts of the divorce settlement. Generally, it’s not possible to change the division of property after the fact. However, you may request changes to spousal support or visitation rights, in addition to the child custody agreement itself. Nevertheless, each of these scenarios calls for different kinds of evidence, so it’s best to consult a lawyer.

Overall, the process of changing a custody agreement is a complex one. The change will not happen overnight, but you can get started on the right foot by speaking to an experienced attorney.

Categories: General

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].