New Braunfels Divorce Decree Modification Attorney
Post Divorce Modifications in Comal County and Guadalupe County
Changes in life happen, and so, as a rule of thumb, most divorce orders should be legally updated at least once every three years. Some common reasons for modification include a change in residence, change in income, change in attitude or behavior, and change in family status. Bear in mind that informal understandings between the parties are not enforceable in court. So, if there is any disagreement whatsoever, the judge will enforce the terms of the existing orders, regardless of what they say or what impact they have.
At The Bettersworth Law Firm, we understand that a divorce or other family law case continues long after the order is signed. Although there may be little or no activity for several months or even several years, disputes almost inevitable arise. At that moment, it is important to have an existing relationship with an attorney, because reinventing the wheel with a new lawyer wastes precious time and money.
Conservatorship and Custody Modification
Under Chapter 156 of the Texas Family Code, either party can make a motion to modify custody or visitation, if the existing order is at least one year old or there is an emotional or physical danger to the child's immediate safety or long-term health. The motion can be based on:
- Changed Circumstances: The alteration must be material and substantial, and the change must be completely unforeseen.
- Child's Preference: A child over 12 may express a preference as to who has the right to determine primary residence.
- Voluntary Relinquishment: The primary custodian must leave the children in the "primary care and possession" of another person for at least six months.
A child's preference is normally a straightforward matter, but the other two are not. Parents often hotly dispute whether or not the changed circumstances are "material and substantial," while other parents leave children with grandparents or other babysitters so frequently that they effectively relinquish primary care and possession.
Child Support Modification
To change child support orders, petitioners must show a material and substantial change in circumstances that has caused at least a 20 percent change in the amount of child support due under the guidelines. There are significant additional restrictions, such as:
- Imputed Income: Obligors who quit their jobs for the purpose of avoiding child support are not entitled to a modification.
- New Spouse: The court cannot consider a new spouse's income to increase or decrease the amount of child support unless there is a termination of paternity rights or other similar action.
- Waiting Period Waiver: If the parties agree to a change before the three years elapse, a judge may approve that modification, in some circumstances.
Once again, any informal, out-of-court agreements are not enforceable. Once entered, the order may be retroactive to the date the petition was filed, but not to the date the circumstances changed.
When children are involved, a family law case is an ongoing matter. For a free consultation with attorneys who help families overcome the legal and financial obstacles in their paths, contact The Bettersworth Law Firm at 830-606-0404. We represent individuals and families throughout South Central Texas.