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Modification Cases

In order to change any of the terms of an existing divorce decree or order regarding the conservatorship, visitation or support of a child, a petition must be filed with the court requesting the court to modify the existing order. In general, there are three areas that can be modified: conservatorship (where the child primarily lives), visitation and the child’s possession schedule, and the amount of child support to be paid. Of course, a new order can be put into place when the parties are in agreement regarding the change in any of the above areas. However, when there is not agreement, the following criteria must be met in order to bring a modification case.

In general, when requesting a modification of a previous order, the person requesting the change must show the court that the modification will be in the best interests of the child and that the circumstances of the child, a conservator or other party affected by the order have “materially and substantially changed” since the date of the previous order. With regard to requesting a change in conservatorship or possession and access, there are other more specific criteria that must be met, and these should be discussed on a case-by-case basis with one of our family law attorneys.

When requesting a modification regarding the amount of child support paid by the obligor in a final order, the person requesting the change must again show the court that the modification will be in the best interests of the child and that the circumstances of the child, a conservator or other party affected by the order have “materially and substantially changed” since the date of the previous order. An example of a material and substantial change with regard to modifying the amount of child support paid would be the obligor changing jobs and his or her income going up or down as a result of the job change. As with the modification of conservatorship, possession and access, there are other more specific criteria that must be met when modifying the amount of child support paid by the obligor.

If you are considering modifying the terms of an existing order, please contact one of our family law attorneys to discuss the individual facts of your case and determine the best course of action for you.