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Modification

In Texas, a party may petition the court to modify a previous court order in the court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction of the case. Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 156.002. Generally, the court with "continuing, exclusive jurisdiction" is the court that rendered to order to be modified. In family law matters, a party may modify a court order concerning conservatorship, possession, and access or concerning child support.

For conservatorship, possession and access, Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 156.101 states:
  1. The court may modify an order that provides for the appointment of a conservator of a child, that provides the terms and conditions of conservatorship, or that provides for the possession of or access to a child if modification would be in the best interest of the child and:
    1. the circumstances of the child, a conservator, or other party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of:
      1. the date of rendition of the order; or
      2. the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based;
    2. the child is at least 12 years of age and has expressed to the court in chambers as provided by Section 153.009 the name of the person who is the child's preference to have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child; or
    3. the conservator who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child to another person for at least six months.
For child support, Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 156.401 states:
  1. [T]he court may modify an order that provides for the support of a child, including an order for health care coverage under Sec. 154.182, if:
    1. the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the earlier of:
      1. the date of the order's rendition; or
      2. the date of the signing of a mediated or collaborative law settlement agreement on which the order is based; or
    2. it has been three years since the order was rendered or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support award under the order differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded in accordance with the child support guidelines.
As seen in the above-quoted portions of the Texas Family Code concerning modification of child support, conservatorship, possession and/or access, the court in all modifications requires the party requesting modification to prove a "material and substantial" change in circumstance. The material and substantial change may be proven in many ways and is fact-specific to every client's case. In addition, for child support, the party seeking modification must prove that the person ordered to pay child support is either earning more or less than the original amount used to calculate child support in the original suit. The disparity in earnings must make the child support obligation differ from the previous obligation by either 20 percent or $100.

If you are interested in seeking modification of a previous court order regarding a family law matter, contact our office today for an initial consultation.

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