Modifications Attorneys in Corpus Christi & Dallas, Texas
Life changes constantly. Marriage, children, careers, paychecks, homes, divorce, and health are some of the areas in which many Texans experience major changes throughout their lives.
Orders that were issued as part of a divorce were based on the circumstances at the time and those circumstances often change. In fact, nearly 79,000 modification and contempt actions were filed in Texas family courts statewide in 2020.
Although the bar is high for what changes are significant enough to change a court order, it is possible for court orders to be modified. At The Torres Law Firm, we help clients in Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas when they need to modify family court orders or when they need to file a lawsuit for contempt of an order. If you are wondering whether changes in your life meet the standard required for modification, we may be able to help. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
Post-Decree Modifications in Texas
Post-decree modifications are changes to existing orders issued by the court in conjunction with the divorce decree. Because the court entered such orders, it requires action by the court to change them.
There are three key areas that may spur the filing of post-decree motions with the court:
Motion to modify child support or spousal support based on changes in income and/or financial needs
Motion to modify child custody
Motion for contempt when one party fails to adhere to an existing order
Modifications to Child Custody
& Child Support Orders
The amount a noncustodial parent pays for child support in Texas is calculated using a specific formula. If there has been no change to a child support order for at least three years and applying the formula guidelines now would result in a 20% change or vary by $100 or more, either parent may ask the court to modify the order. A parent may also petition the court if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances.
The following qualify as material and substantial change:
An increase or decrease in the noncustodial parent’s income
The noncustodial parent has become financially responsible for additional children
Medical insurance for the child has changed
Child custody, now referred to as “conservatorship” in Texas, involves both managing conservatorship (legal custody) and possessory conservatorship (physical custody). Filing a Petition to Modify a Parent-Child Relationship with the court requires:
The child’s circumstances to have been altered due to material change in circumstances of one or both parents
A child of 12 years of age or older to have expressed a wish to change which parent they live with
The parent with possessory conservatorship to have voluntarily relinquished care to the other parent for six months or longer
Where custody matters are concerned, the court always rules in the best interests of the child. If changes in circumstances have also changed what arrangements are in the best interests of the child, the court may choose to modify an existing order.
Modifications to Spousal Support
Spousal support (or “alimony”) one spouse pays to another following divorce may also be modified by the court if the petitioner demonstrates a material change in circumstances. Because any alimony award is based on the recipient’s need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay it, substantial changes in the paying spouse’s income would qualify as material and substantial change. Other material changes might include the receiving spouse’s ability to be self-supporting, or changes in the spouse’s physical or mental condition.
How to Petition the Court to Modify an Order
Either party affected by material and substantial change in circumstances may file a petition with the court to modify an existing order, pursuant to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. As with the divorce petition, the other party must be served a copy of the modification petition so they can respond formally.
If a party has failed to honor court-ordered support orders, the other party may file a contempt lawsuit with the court to request enforcement of the order.
How a Family Law Firm Can Help
Family court orders are serious obligations, but when life changes the circumstances that applied when those orders were made, you can ask the court to modify those orders accordingly. Filing a petition with the court to have an order modified or asking the court to enforce an order is best handled by an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can help you document evidence of material and substantial change and advocate for you in court.
Modifications Attorneys Serving Corpus Christi, Texas
Our team at The Torres Law Firm has helped countless clients in Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas, address life’s changing circumstances with the court. You don’t have to face these challenges on your own. If you believe an existing order should be modified, or if you need to have one enforced, call us today to schedule a consultation.