Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

5005 Riverway Drive, Suite 450 • Houston, Texas 77056

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Divorce Decree Modifications Usually Only for Custody

Modifying a divorce decree in Texas can be difficult. You, your ex-spouse and the court have already devoted a lot of energy towards reaching an arrangement that works for all parties, so the court is usually reluctant to change things unless it absolutely has to. As such, do not expect that you can simply return to court later and fight the original divorce decree. If you have a problem with the decree (perhaps you would prefer an alternative child custody arrangement), you should fight the decree before it becomes final. Once it becomes final, your chances of modifying it are a lot less.

In order to modify a divorce decree, Texas law requires “material and substantial” changes in circumstances. As this language suggests, these changes have to big. Additionally, only a court can make official changes to the divorce decree so, if you and your ex-spouse agree to something informally, legally speaking, nothing changes. Changed circumstances that have led to divorce decree modifications include the following:

  • Job loss
  • Increased child care costs (if, for example, one child should become disabled)
  • Substance abuse
  • Out-of-state or out-of-country move
  • Child endangerment concerns

Finally, remember that modifying a divorce decree is typically for child custody or child support purposes only. Modifying a decree regarding property settlement is rare, and, if your time to appeal a decree has elapsed, you have no option to change the divorce decree (unless fraud is involved).

Have you had to modify a divorce decree after it became final? How easy or difficult was the process for you?

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce lawyers

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