The Courts in Texas retain Jurisdiction to Modify a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship and a Final Decree of Divorce that have orders which could affect the children as long as the child is under 18 or graduates High School, whichever occurs last. If the child is over 18 but still in High School, the court retains Jurisdiction over child support only.
1. The Modification is in the best interests of the child, which would be an evaluation of the following factors:
a. The desires of the child;
b. The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
c. The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
d. The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
e. The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interests of the child;
f. The plans for the child by these individuals or by the agency seeking custody;
g. The stability of the home or proposed placement;
h. The acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and
i. Any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
2. The circumstances of the child or parent has materially and substantially changed since the original child custody order or agreement
Harris County family courts have recognized certain situations that would qualify as material and substantial changes in the circumstances of a child or parent affected by a custody or visitation order. Examples include a parent’s remarriage, a medical condition that adversely affects a parent’s ability to function and work on a regular basis, parent’s criminal acts and convictions, or parent’s change in residence that makes visitation a hardship for the other parent. This is not an exhaustive list but only a summary; please contact me to discuss your facts.
3. The child is at least 12 years old and has told the court in chambers that the child wants a change ,
A motion need to be filed. Some of the Harris County judges do not like to interview children. But the law says that: if you file a motion, then a judge will have to interview the child. The judges typically do not ask what the child wants. They ask about home life and activities. The child then usually either attempts to make a decision or refuses and tells the judge that it would be better if his/her parents got back together.
4. The custodial parent has voluntarily given the child’s care and custody to another person
The court may also modify a custody order if the custodial parent has voluntarily given up the care and custody of the child to another person for at least six months. However, this provision doesn’t apply if the custodial parent has only temporarily relinquished the care of the child during a period of military deployment, mobilization or duty.