Modifications of Court Orders Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship in Texas


Many times after divorces are final and the court has issued specific orders regarding child custody and support, personal and financial changes may dictate the necessity to modify existing custodial and financial obligations of spouses. This may be due to financial needs, relocation, increased medical expenses for a child, increased expenses for children entering adolescence and their education. Nearly all post-marital relationships have some change of circumstances that necessitate a modification of parental responsibilities.

In general, the Texas Family Code provides that any final court orders affecting the parent-child relationship may be modified, if warranted. To justify a modification of the original court order, there must be a determination of a material and substantial change in circumstances by the judge. The court’s primary concern, for any modification order, is what is best for the child. Subsequent modifications can continue throughout the years as circumstances and needs change from childhood to adulthood.

When attempting to modify existing custody or visitation rights, the child’s circumstances or the circumstances of either parent must have materially and substantially changed. In Texas, courts will almost always consider the remarriage of one or both parents to be a material change in circumstances. In every case, the court will always look to the child’s best interest versus that of the parent’s. As such, decisions are made on a case by case basis after hearing testimony and observing the demeanor of the parents. Once a child is 12 years of age, they can petition with the court indicating with whom they would prefer to live.

The court also has continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over orders reflecting the amount of child support to be paid. Any party seeking to modify support payments must prove that the circumstances of either the child, or the person affected by the order, has materially and substantially changed since the original order was entered. Sometimes there are situations where there has been a substantial increase or decrease in the income for the parent paying support. This can serve as justification for increasing or decreasing the court ordered child support payments. Often times, there are considerable expenses related to caring for the child that can also meet the burden of a material and substantial change of circumstances. For example, costs for clothing, food, education, travel, sports and summer camps increase dramatically as children grow older.

If you, a family member or a friend are in a situation where there have been a material and substantial changes of circumstances that warrants the modification of original child custody and support orders affecting you, it is important that you seek legal advice and counsel from an experienced family law attorney.

San Antonio family attorney Allan R. Manka has nearly 40 years of experience in handling a wide array of family law matters, including modifications. He has helped many clients in San Antonio and the surrounding areas of Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Hondo, Boerne and New Braunfels, in addition to serving those at Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base and throughput the state.

Contact us at (210) 807-8629 or (866) 621-7085 (Toll-free) to schedule your confidential, no obligation consultation to sit down and discuss your particular needs.

Other Resources:

Texas Family Code , Chapter 156

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