Is your child custody agreement no longer working? Are you looking to file for child custody modification in Sugar Land, TX? There are several steps that you must understand and follow when filing a petition.
6 Important Steps Toward Child Custody Modification in Sugar Land, TX
1. Know If Your Situation Warrants a Change in Custody
If you are seeking a modification in your child custody agreement, then there are several steps that you’ll need to take. However, the first step is to understand if your situation requires you to file a petition for a modification in the first place.
A court won’t agree to every request for modification. There are certain cases where a court will agree to a change in custody. For example, if a child’s needs have changed and one parent is better qualified to care for the child than the other. Or, for instance, if the custodial parent is going to move and this move could put a burden on the non-custodial parent. Make sure that your situation does warrant a change in custody before you file a petition.
2. File a Motion to Amend or Review the Court Order
If you have determined that your situation does warrant a change in custody, then your next step will be to file a motion to amend or review your court order. To do this, you will need your original court order.
You will also need to provide reasons why you’re looking to change your custody agreement.
3. Hire a Lawyer
In any legal situation, you have the ability and the right to represent yourself in court. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Instead, working with child custody lawyers in Sugar Land, TX will help you get quality legal representation that will help you in several ways.
The law can be complex. If you have not been properly trained, you may not understand all of the nuances, and you could make some costly mistakes. It’s a much better idea to work with a qualified and experienced guardianship lawyer that knows all the ins and outs of the law and will make sure you get the right representation.
4. The Discovery Process
When they receive your motion, the court will review it. If they agree with your motion, then there may be an evidentiary hearing. This hearing will provide you and the other parent the chance to bring forth any evidence that proves why they should be the custodial parent.
Before the hearing comes, you and your attorney will have the chance to gather the necessary evidence. This process is called informal discovery. There are several different pieces of evidence that your lawyer may recommend you bring. Some examples include the following:
- A custody journal that outlines problems that may have arisen
- A record showing actual parenting time compared to scheduled parenting time
- Notes and reports from doctors, teachers, and other caregivers
- A parent’s new work schedule
5. The Hearing
Once the evidence has been gathered, you and the other party will attend the evidentiary hearing. As the parent requesting a change, you will be able to show how the change in circumstances necessitates a change in custody.
Likewise, the other parent will have the opportunity to dispute these claims. Once the judge has heard both parties, they will make a decision.
6. The Ruling
Several different outcomes could happen here. The judge might decide that a modification in custody might harm the child more than help them. Of course, they could also decide that a change in custody is necessary.
Some situations may call for the judge to agree to only slight changes to the custody agreement. Whatever the results are, the judge will determine them by listening to both sides and making sure to take into account what is in the best interest of the children involved.
When Will a Judge Agree to a Change in Custody?
There are a few specific cases where a judge is more likely to agree to a change in custody. If your situation falls into one of these circumstances, then you have a better chance of getting the modification you’re looking for.
- The custodial parent is moving and the move is going to place a burden on the non-custodial parent, or significantly affect the child’s life
- One parent isn’t following the guidelines outlined in the custody agreement
- A parent’s situation has changed
- The child’s needs have changed
- One parent is engaging in behavior that puts the child in danger
If you are a divorced parent, there may come a time where it’s necessary for you to consider filing for a change in your custody agreement. If this is the case, it’s important to work with a qualified lawyer who will make sure that your case has the best chance possible.