When a parent seeks modification of Texas custody, they generally must show there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the prior order was rendered and that the change is in the best interest of the children. A parent petitioning to change the designation of the parent with the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence within one year of the prior order must also attach an affidavit making one of three allegations. The affidavit may allege the child’s current environment may endanger their physical health or significantly impair their emotional development. If the person with the exclusive right to designate the primary resident is seeking or consenting to the modification, the affidavit may allege the modification is in the best interest of the child. Finally, the affidavit may allege that the person with the exclusive right has voluntarily surrendered the child’s primary care and possession for six months or more and that the change is in the child’s best interest. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 156.102(a).
In a recent case, a father appealed a summary judgment denying his petition for modification. The parents were named joint managing conservators of the children in the 2014 divorce decree, but neither was given the exclusive right to determine their residence. In 2018, the trial court gave the mother that right, with a geographic restriction.
Father Files Modification Suit
The father petitioned to modify the order, alleging a material and substantial change in circumstances and that the children’s current environment could endanger their health or significantly impair their emotional development. He further alleged the modification would be in the best interest of the children. He also alleged the mother neglected the children.