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Can A Final Child Custody Order Be Modified?

Family Law Case

What is a Final Order and How Does it Affect my time with my Child?

If you are going through a San Antonio divorce then you need to understand the process. Our attorneys will sit down and talk to you and find out where you are in the process and provide a strategy for you to achieve your goals. If you have kids and are divorced or no longer with the other parent then having court orders in place is critical to making sure you have a right to see your kids. At The Locke Law Group we help families who are going through the Bexar County divorce process so that our clients can maintain and grow their relationships with their children. After the divorce process is concluded a child custody order (formally called a Final Order) is signed by a judge. This Final Order will govern when you can and cannot see your kids (people can make informal agreements to modify but those have to be agreed to by both parties.) Sometimes, when people live with this document they find that things are not working out like they’d hoped. So how can they change it?

How is a Bexar County Child Custody Final Order Modified?

The easiest way to get a court order modified is with the agreement of both of the parents or parties. This is especially important in jurisdictions that require a waiting period before allowing a modification, if there is no evidence that the child is in enough imminent danger to warrant an immediate change. In most cases, one of the parents will want to modify the court order and the other parent will want to keep it in place. In these cases, the parent wanting the change can file a petition with the family court to modify the order. The other parent or party must be served with a copy of the motion and the court date if one has been set by the District Clerk.

When Should a Final Order Be Modified?

Once a custody and visitation order, for example, is in place, both parents are required to follow its terms or they will risk losing custody or access to their child. Bexar County family law judges will enforce court orders and you are expected to follow the orders that have previously been imposed even if you do not agree with them. Beyond that, a Bexar County Family Law District Court Judge can find you in contempt of a court order and sentence you to jail if you do not follow the court’s orders. It is always best to seek a modification of your court order rather than attempting to take things into your own hands. If you and the other parent agree to not follow the custody orders that are in place it is a good idea to get the agreed change in writing. Exchanging text messages is usually sufficient to establish any temporary change in a child custody order. However, if you want a more permanent change you should contact an attorney.

When Final Orders are in place parents of the children involved should attempt to co-parent. We always encourage parents to work together before going to court. This means that you should put your child’s interest ahead of your own and worry about your child’s needs before what you want for yourself. However,we know that this does not always happen and sometimes it is necessary to take your case back to court. The first question Bexar County District Court judges ask when they are approached for a modification is; what has changed? Is one parent not obeying the order? Is something going on with the child? The prior orders are presumed to have been made in the best interest of the child, so you need to be prepared to explain why it is that the Bexar County Final Order needs to be modified. The second question a Bexar County Judge will ask when modifying a prior Final Order is why the modification is in the best interest of the child.

At The Locke Law Group we know what Bexar County District Court Judges are looking for when they are asked to modify prior child custody orders. During your free consultation we will talk to you about what you want and what a judge will think of your request. We will come up with a strategy to achieve your goals and talk to you about any risk that you might face if you file your modification.

Before making a decision, the family court may order an evaluation by a social worker or require mediation. You should always consult with a family law attorney in your jurisdiction to understand what exactly is required in your case. When a family court enters a court order, it has already determined that the best interest of the children will be served by that court order. For this reason, the court will be hesitant to modify the order.There are two very limited circumstances in which a court will always order a modification to a court order. The first is where the best interest of the children is no longer being met by the current order. The second is when there has been a significant change in circumstances since the first order was entered.

Examples of a change in circumstance considered significant may include:

  • One parent moving over a long distance, making the visitation schedule difficult
  • The non-requesting parent creating an unsafe home environment for the children
  • The children’s emotional and developmental needs are not being addressed
  • The non-requesting parent violating the current visitation schedule

The court will evaluate all the facts to decide what is in the best interest of the child. If you are requesting a modification due to the non-compliance of the other parent, then be sure that you keep proper documentation at all times.