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Why formal custody modifications are important after divorce

Having total control over the custody terms in a divorce is unusual. Even if you and your spouse filed an uncontested divorce, the courts still approved and formalized your agreements as a custody order, and they may have made some changes before doing so.

As you get into a new rhythm after divorce, you may find that the terms you or the courts set regarding custody no longer meet everyone’s needs and cause unnecessary stress. It is common for divorced parents to realize that they need to update their custody agreement as family circumstances shift.

All too often, former spouses will make informal agreements to change the amount of parenting time or the way that they split that time. Unfortunately, those informal agreements about custody can put you in a vulnerable position.

You could wind up accused of violating the custody order

Even if things are amicable now, you want to protect yourself and your relationship with your children from the consequences of violating a custody order. If your ex agrees to let you take the kids for a three-day weekend because you took Monday off of work, you probably want that agreement in written form. Otherwise, it’s possible that you could wind up facing allegations of parental kidnapping even though you had permission to keep your kids an extra day.

Alternately, your ex could also accuse you of abandoning your children if you don’t show up for parenting time as scheduled in the court order due to an informal agreement. They could document the changes in your behavior and use it as evidence against you. When you make changes to your custody arrangements, going to the courts to formally modify the custody order is best.

Any substantial changes may warrant a modification hearing

The Texas family courts want to support involved parents working together. Asking for a modification when you have made significant changes to your parenting plan will protect you from consequences if things sour between you and your ex.

It’s also worth noting that if you have more time with your kids, that could reduce your child support obligations as well, which is another reason why asking for a modification might benefit you, as it could trigger a review of the support that you pay as well.