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Changes in custody arrangements

As Texas parents who are going through a divorce may know, child custody is granted by the court and aims at providing what is best for the child. As time passes, parental circumstances may change. For instance, the custodial parent may not be able to take care of the child, or the noncustodial parent may find the visitation schedule difficult to meet. In such circumstances, one or both parents may wish to make changes to the original custody order. This may be done, but a new court order is needed.

To accomplish this, a petition is made to the court to modify the custody arrangement, and there are specific steps that must be followed. The first step is to file a petition where the order originated. If the child lives in a different county, there is a minimum residency requirement of six months, and the parent who wishes to change the order may ask for a change in jurisdiction. If the order was issued in another state, it may not be changed unless the child now resides in Texas and the state is considered the child's home state, unless an emergency exists.

After filing the petition, all parties involved in the original order are notified. If all parties agree to the change, the petition is placed with the court clerk. If the parties do not agree, the petitioned changes are contested, and this must be resolved before changes are made. The decision to change the custody orders is made to ensure the child's interests are best served.

Modification of custody is a formal family law process and must be done in sequential fashion. Consulting an attorney may help ensure all steps are followed to avoid denial or delay.

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