Child Custody Orders
Child custody orders included in a divorce or created as stand-alone orders are subject to modification if one or both parents have experienced substantial changes in circumstances. The vast majority of parents put their children’s best interests in the forefront of any custody modification or visitation changes they make while raising them. Mothers and fathers also naturally guard their parental rights.
Child Custody Modification Attorneys for Changes Of Circumstance
A custody modification lawyer may be needed if changes are necessary, especially if one parent has gone to prison, if a parent is in the military and deployed out of the area, if a parent has a medical problem, or if either parent has remarried or taken a new job in a new location. Other compelling factors may include a child’s special needs or voluntary relinquishment of the child by a parent to another person, in which case a custody modification attorney can be especially helpful.
An experienced child custody attorney at Laura Dale & Associates can help you file a petition or file a counter-petition.
A child’s stated preference, if the child is 12 years old or older, may factor into a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship (SAPCR) in pursuit of a child custody modification. If our law firm represents you, you can rest assured that we are well-prepared to apply our knowledge and skills to protect your parental rights. We are ready to take the steps necessary to pursue your custody modification goals while taking into account your children’s best interests.
Sometimes a parent who will lose frequent contact with a child in the event of a move raises objections and tries to block the child custody modification. Whichever side of a Texas child custody case you are on (petitioning for a modification or seeing to prevent a modification), the law firm of Laura Dale & Associates, is here to advise and represent you zealously and capably in getting your child custody order modified.
How Will A Family Law Court Take A Teenage Child’s Preferences Into Account In A Modification?
Sometimes parents believe they can negotiate a change in a custody arrangement on their own, without involving a lawyer or judge. Such parents sometimes come to our law firm asking, “Do we have to take this to court to get our custody order modified?” We typically let them know that informal arrangements may work for a short period of time, but if either parent reneges on the plan, a child’s sense of security may be at stake. Potential disruptions to a child’s well-being through unexpected moves, changes of school and changes in family structure are often avoidable by looking into custody modifications.
What Is A Suit Affecting The Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) In Texas?
In Texas, a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) is a broad legal action that asks the court to decide things like possession of and access to the child, child support, medical support and dental support.
Unlike any private agreements the parents may have made between themselves, orders related to a SAPCR are binding and enforceable. However, the SAPCR can be completed by agreement if both parents consent. It can also be settled by default if the responding parent fails to answer once they have been served.
Who Can File A SAPCR In Texas?
Most of the time, SAPCRs are filed by one or both of a child’s parents. Typically, a SAPCR is automatically part of a divorce filing when parents separate, but it can also be filed when a child’s parents are not married and one or both are seeking clarification of their parental rights.
Other interested parties may also file a SAPCR. These include:
- Foster parents who have been involved in the child’s care for at least a year
- Other people who have cared for the children unofficially for at least six months
- A child’s legal guardian or conservator for the last six months
- Other close relatives of the child, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, and older siblings, when the parents are deceased
In general, a SAPCR can be filed only when a child has lived in Texas either since birth (if under 6 months old) or for at least six months, or when Texas was the child’s state of residence and they were absent less than six months before returning.
How Does A SAPCR Affect Custody?
Whether the SAPCR is an initial filing or is part of a modification request, it has the potential to greatly affect custody situations. In Texas, custody is more properly called “conservatorship,” and it is divided into both legal and physical types.
The SAPCR can ask the court to grant one or both parents possessory conservatorship, which means physical custody. It can also grant one or both parents managing conservatorship, which is “legal” custody. That is the right to make decisions about the child’s health care, education, religious education and similar things.
When one parent is granted exclusive possessory and/or managing conservatorship over a child, that’s often called “sole” custody, and the other parent may or may not be granted access (or visitation). When parents share these responsibilities, that is often called “joint” custody. A custody modification request, which can be used to alter the current possession of and access to the children enjoyed by each parent, is known as a Suit Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship (SMPCR).
The SAPCR can also be used to establish and modify child support obligations. In Texas, the guidelines generally say that parents should contribute about 20% of their net monthly income to support one child, 25% for two children and 30% for three children.
It is important to note that all child custody decisions affected by an SAPCR will be made in the best interests of the child. That is the standard that every family court in Texas uses in these issues, so every SAPCR needs to be presented from that perspective.
How Do You Begin A SAPCR In Texas?
You begin your Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship in the county court where the child currently resides. Once that family court assumes jurisdiction of the case, it will continue to retain jurisdiction in the future, so any future changes would also go before that court. Typically, you must pay a filing fee and fees to have the other parent served, if applicable.
Because there can be a lot on the line and there are often a lot of emotions involved with a SAPCR, working with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to avoid complications and effectively present your suit.
Need a Custody Modification or to Change Your Visitation Schedule? Talk To Us
Contact our Houston family law firm for counsel and representation regarding child custody, modifications or any child-related family law matter. You can call us at 713-489-6674, to schedule your consultation at our Houston office.