Modification of parent-child relationship orders

We help parents change a court order about support, custody, or visitation in Waco, Texas. Our courts call this legal process a “modification of parent-child relationship.” Modifications involve very complex legal issues and should be discussed with an experienced family law attorney. Dunnam & Dunnam is among the few law firms anywhere that have tried these cases to a jury. If you are involved in a modification of child custody issue, call the family law attorneys of Dunnam & Dunnam at 254-753-6437. 

Guidelines for Modifying Conservatorship and Possession and Access

A suit to modify the parent-child relationship can be filed after a court has entered a final order, such as a divorce decree naming one parent as the custodial parent (the parent with physical possession of the child) or final order in a paternity suit establishing the rights and duties of the parents. An order may be modified by filing a legal document called a Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship.

Modification of Prior Texas Orders

A petition seeking the modification of a prior order in the State of Texas must be filed in the court of continuing and exclusive jurisdiction. For example, suppose the original case was filed in the 170th Judicial District Court of McLennan County, Texas, and a final order was issued out of that court. In that case, the modification must be filed in the 170th Judicial District Court of McLennan County.

Modification of Out of State Orders

For out of state orders, it is not required to register the order for modification of conservatorship. However, it is good practice to note the order in case modification of child support becomes an issue in the modification proceedings. The new suit to modify the prior ruling is typically filed in the Texas county where the child resides at the filing suit time. Modifications involve very complex legal issues and should be discussed with an experienced family law attorney.

General Rules for Changing Visitation, Custody, Child Support in Texas

A prior order can be modified if the modification is in the child’s best interest and one of the following is true:

  1. The parties agree to the change.
  2. A child over the age of 12 has expressed to the court a preference to live with the non-custodial parent in chambers.
  3. The parent has the right to designate the child’s residence has voluntarily relinquished that right for at least six months.
  4. There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the prior order.

The “material and substantial change in circumstances” is the most often used method of seeking a modification.

Additionally, due to the modern reality that families often move, even when a prior Texas order is the subject of a modification suit, the court that had jurisdiction over that initial order may lose jurisdiction; in particular, if a child has resided in another county for at least six months before the filing of the modification suit, then jurisdiction and venue may be transferred to the new county.

Caution on Modifications

The content contained within this section is intended to serve as a brief introduction to modifications. Still, modification suits can be and often are complicated matters. It is strongly advised that you seek legal advice from an attorney if you believe that you will be initiating or defending a modification suit for conservatorship, visitation, or child support.

Modification order attorneys in Central Texas

To discuss your case with an experienced Waco modification of parent-child relationship lawyer, contact one of our child custody attorneys at 254-753-6437.

What do our modification of parent-child relationship clients say about Dunnam & Dunnam?

Wacoan Magazine regularly chooses our law firm as the best in Waco, including best family law attorneys. You can read many of our client’s family law reviews on our family law page. Some of our child custody clients have said,

“I have known Jim Dunnam for 30 years, back in the day when it was unheard of for the man to get custody of the kids during a divorce Jim fought for me and got custody of both my children for me, if you are lucky enough to have Jim as your attorney then you have the piece of mind knowing he will fight for your case till the very end, a stand up guy who tells you straight up front what your facing and what he can do for you, I highly recommend Jim Dunnam to anyone who is in need of an attorney for any circumstance.” –Greg Key

“I recently used Dunnam and Dunnam for a family case. I was pursuing custody of my son. Brittany Cleere helped me navigate and successfully gain custody of my son. She was amazing and helpful through out the entire mentally taxing experience. I’ve recommended and will continue to recommend the law firm of Dunnam and Dunnam for all legal matters but I will especially recommend Brittany for being such a kind fantastic person. I finally have peace of mind and I owe it all to her diligent efforts.” -Travis Dwayne

Hire a Board Certified Child Custody Lawyer

An attorney becomes board-certified only after being in practice for many years, obtaining rigorous experience in the practice area, and taking a challenging examination. Of the 100,000 lawyers in Texas, only about 900 are board-certified in family law. Dunnam & Dunnam has three board-certified family lawyers representing many McLennan County residents in modifications of the parent-child relationship. Our attorneys are respected by judges, juries, and opposing counsel for their tenacity and knowledge of the law.

Vance Dunnam Waco Attorney at Dunnam & Dunnam

Vance Dunnam

Vance has 60 years of experience as a lawyer in Waco, Texas handling all types of cases in both the office and the courtroom.

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Merrilee Harmon Waco Lawyer at Dunnam & Dunnam

Merrilee L. Harmon

Merrilee L. Harmon is a Family Law specialist, Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1985.

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Jim Dunnam Waco Attorney at Dunnam & Dunnam

Jim Dunnam

Jim Dunnam is a Board Certified Specialist in both Civil Trial Law and Family Law.

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Our Waco, Texas family law firm has many attorneys that routinely handle matters involving the modification of the parent-child relationship, including the following lawyers.

Eleeza Johnson Attorney at Law Dunnam & Dunam

Eleeza Johnson

Eleeza's practice areas include: Personal Injury Law, Civil Trial Law, Commercial Law, Family Law and Pharmaceutical Law.

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Gerald R. Villarrial

Gerald R. Villarrial has practiced family law, criminal law and civil litigation for over 20 years.

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Mason Dunnam

Mason Dunnam is the fourth generation of Dunnam attorneys at the firm since 1925

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Carolina Truesdale

Carolina G. Truesdale graduated from Texas Tech University School of Law, Cum Laude.

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Call us at 254-753-6437 to discuss your child custody matter with an experienced Waco family law attorney.