A Texas court generally cannot modify a custody order or parenting plan unless there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. Sometimes, a parent may seek modification because the other parent’s actions have created a change in circumstances. Texas law provides examples of potential material changes, including marriage of one of the parents, changes in the home surroundings, and mistreatment of the child by a parent or step-parent. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 156.101.
A Texas appeals court recently considered whether a modification allowing the father, rather than the mother, to determine the child’s primary residence was appropriate. In the Texas divorce, the mother was awarded the family home, which was subject to a mortgage in both names. The father paid child support. At the time of the divorce, the child went to daycare while the mother worked, then spent a few hours with the father, and spent the night with his mother.
The mother subsequently started working a night shift. The child continued going to daycare, but then spent both evenings and nights with the father. The mother sold the family home to the father and moved into another home with the child’s maternal grandmother. Soon afterward, she switched to the day shift. She removed the child from daycare and left him with the grandmother during the day. The mother then only allowed the father to see the child on the days specified in the divorce decree, and would deny him access to the child if he was late, even by a few minutes.