In the legal world, “child custody modification” can mean a number of different things. It might mean that you want to change the rights and duties that each parent has, according to a previous order. It can also mean that you wish to change which parent has “possession” of the children most of the time. Or it can mean restructuring the visitation schedule. In order to make any changes to your previous order regarding child custody, you must file a Petition for Modification. 

Burden of proof courts require to justify a modification

In order for the court to even consider a child custody modification, you must prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances of the children or a party to the lawsuit since the time of the most recent order, and that the change you are requesting would be in the best interest of the child.

Not all life changes are deemed “material and substantial”

There are a number of life changes that are not sufficient by themselves to prove a material and substantial change in circumstances.

One is that the children are now older. The courts have found that it was entirely foreseeable that the children would age and presume that was taken into account at the time of the last order.

If the aging of the children were sufficient, then the necessity of proving a material and substantial change in circumstances would be meaningless since the children will always have aged.

Five key reasons why a court may grant your modification

In a case called Wright vs. Wright, an appellate court in Houston established some of the changes that may be sufficient to prove “material and substantial change in circumstances”:

  1. Marriage of one of the parties,
  2. Poisoning of the child’s mind by one of the parties,
  3. Change in the home surroundings,
  4. Mistreatment of the child by a parent or step-parent, or
  5. A parent becoming an improper person to exercise custody.

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