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Can your custody agreement be modified?

The circumstances under which your divorce occurs will no doubt impact many of the decisions made regarding it (such as the determination of child custody). However, your life (and that of your ex-spouse and your children) is sure to go, meaning that your circumstances can (and most likely will) change. 

The question then becomes whether such a change warrants a modification of your current custody agreement. Does the law even allow for such a change? 

Determining a material change of circumstances 

The law recognizes that whatever your situation dictated at the time of the divorce may not be the same today. However, to justify a modification of your custody arrangement, you have to show that either you or your ex-spouse (or even in some cases, your kids) have gone through a “material change” in circumstances. Examples of this may include: 

  • You getting a new job 
  • Your ex-spouse moving into a new home 
  • You or your ex-spouse suffering an injury or contracting an illness 
  • You choosing to remarry or live with a new partner 

Depending on the nature of the change, the court may consider modification provided your case meets the requirements established by law. 

Criteria for a custody modification 

These requirements are in Section 156.101 of the Texas Family Code. First, the material change in circumstances explained earlier needs to occur following the earlier of either the rendering of your custody order or the completion of your divorce proceedings. Next, your child must be above the age of 12 an expressed an interest in your current arrangement changing, or you or your ex-spouse (whichever has authority to determine your child’s primary residence) relinquishing primary custody for at least six months.