Custody Modifications in Texas
Custody and visitation schedules are designed to serve families in the long term. However, they are not unchangeable. There is a court process through which a parent can request a modification to their court-ordered custody arrangement and visitation schedule. This most often happens when a parent or the child has had a material change in circumstances that renders the existing custody schedule impractical or inadequate for the child’s needs.
Typically, the courts will only consider modifications if they are:
- In the best interests of the child involved
As such, wanting a change to your holiday visitation schedule may not meet this standard for a court-ordered modification. However, we recommend speaking with an attorney about your case to determine your best option.
Common reasons for requesting a modification include the following:
- A parent and/or the child has relocated
- A parent has changed or lost their job
- A child has new needs
- A situation has arisen that affects the child’s wellbeing
- An older child has expressed a wish to change their visitation
There are situations in which a holiday visitation modification is necessary and which meets the court’s standards. For example, if one parent relocates, the original agreement to split each holiday day may no longer be practical or even possible.
Alternatives to Petitioning the Court for Modification
For one-off visitation changes (such as trading days or changes that only affect the current year or a single holiday), you will not need to modify your visitation schedule with the courts officially. If you and your co-parent are able to agree to a one-off modification of your holiday visitation schedule, make sure you get the change (and both parents’ approval of the change) in writing. Having these agreements in writing can help you and your co-parent avoid misunderstandings or confusion.
If you are seeking a permanent change to your visitation schedule, you will need to file the change with the courts. However, before petitioning the courts with a modification request, it is typically recommended that the parent seeking the modification discuss it with the other parent first.
Frequently, parents who are on amicable terms when it comes to co-parenting can work out the schedule change among themselves without having the matter brought before a judge. If you and your co-parent can do so, this will save you a lot of time and money. It can also help you preserve your co-parenting relationship and avoid unnecessary conflict that can come with fighting a matter out in court.
Uncontested vs. Contested Modifications
When filing a custody modification, such as a permanent change to your holiday visitation schedule, you have the option to file it as an uncontested modification or a contested modification. Uncontested modifications are for when you and your co-parent agree to the change and both are willing to sign off on all aspects of the modification (this is an uncontested modification finished by agreement). An uncontested agreement may also be finished by default if, after the other parent is served, they do not file an answer or appear in court.
A contested modification is one in which the parents do not agree, and the parent both will not sign the modification order and files an answer or waiver of service. To complete a contested modification, you will have to attend a final hearing. It is also highly recommended that you consult with an attorney if you are dealing with a contested modification case.
Review our blog to learn more about custody modifications in Texas, or reach out to our law firm to schedule a consultation. The Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill has extensive experience handling custody modifications, and we can use this experience to guide you.