Austin Modification Lawyers

Working With Clients to Create Equitable Agreements

Not all court orders stay good forever. In fact, most don't. The child custody or alimony arrangement you develop during a divorce may not make sense five years down the road.

Filing a modification case enables you to change a court order so it reflects your current circumstances more accurately. Familiarizing yourself with the order modification process in Texas allows you to make the best decisions as you move forward with your modification case.

At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our Austin modification attorneys stand ready to help you modify your court orders. To learn more, contact us online or via phone at (512) 991-0576.

What is Modification?

Modification refers to the legal process of changing an existing court order. This process is typically necessary when there has been a significant change in circumstances that makes the current order impractical or unfair.

Common types of family court orders you can modify include:

  • Child Custody Orders: A parent might seek to modify custody if they relocate for a job or if the child's needs change significantly, such as needing a different school or medical care. For instance, altering who the primary custodial parent is or changing the visitation schedule to better suit the child's new routine.
  • Child Support Orders: A parent who loses their job or experiences a substantial income decrease may request to lower their child support payments. Conversely, if a parent's income significantly increases or the child's expenses grow, the other parent might seek higher support payments.
  • Spousal Support (Alimony) Orders: If the paying spouse's income decreases drastically or if the receiving spouse remarries, a modification to the alimony amount may be necessary. This could mean reducing the payments or stopping them altogether.
  • Visitation Orders: Changes in a parent's work schedule or a move to a new city might necessitate modifying the visitation arrangement. This could involve adjusting the days or times the non-custodial parent spends with the child.
  • Protective Orders: If the threat level changes, such as the offending party moving away or no longer posing a danger, a protective order may be modified. This could mean extending the order's duration, reducing its restrictions, or lifting it entirely.
  • Property Division Orders: If new assets are discovered after the original property division, the order might be adjusted to fairly distribute those assets. Alternatively, if the value of certain assets has significantly changed, the division might be modified to reflect this new valuation.

How Do I Modify a Court Order in Texas?

Filing a modification case allows you to change the terms of an outdated court order and make it more relevant to your current circumstances. Most people file modification cases for child custody and visitation or child and spousal support orders.

You can file a modification case if:

  • The circumstances of a party involved in the order have changed substantially since the order was issued, or
  • At least three years have passed since court passed the order, and changing the court order would modify its terms by 20% or $100.

To file a modification case, you should go to the courthouse where the court order was initially drafted and request order modification forms from the court clerk. An order modification lawyer can help you fill out the forms and ensure you have a strong case for changing the order.

How Do Modification Cases Work in Texas?

There are two types of modification cases: Agreed modifications, and default modifications.

If all parties involved in a court order agree it should be modified—and, more importantly, concur on how to modify it—they can file for an agreed modification. Courts often approve requests for agreed modifications quickly as long as the judge verifies that modifying the order is in the best interests of the parties.

If the parties involved in a court order disagree on whether they should modify an order (or how to modify it), then the party who wants to modify the order must file a default modification case.

Default modifications act more like a "standard" legal case. The person filing the modification case must arrange proof of service for the other party, notifying them of the modification case.

Then, the court will arrange hearing dates for the case. At the hearings, each party presents evidence to support their case that the court order should or shouldn't be modified.

If you file an order modification case, you should expect to present evidence supporting your modification request. This may include:

  • Proof your income has decreased substantially enough that you can no longer feasibly pay for the original order;
  • Proof the other party's circumstances have changed significantly (such as remarrying or receiving a raise), and they no longer require financial assistance;
  • Proof that any beneficiaries of the order no longer require as much or any support. For example, let's say your child had a medical condition, and the cost of treatment was factored into your original child support order. Now, let's say that your child completes a treatment that eliminates their condition. You could request to modify that order, so you're no longer paying for a treatment your child doesn't need or receive.

Pursuing a modification case can feel like fighting an uphill battle, which is why it's so important to obtain the counsel of a skilled order modification lawyer before pursuing your case.

At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we help our clients build strong cases that support their requests for order modifications. We'll work with you to pursue a court order that's fair and equitable, given your circumstances.

To schedule a consultation with our Austin modification lawyers, contact us online or via phone at (512) 991-0576.

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