Let’s say, hypothetically, you’ve gone through a divorce. The judge grants your ex-spouse primary possession of the kids, grants you standard possession, and orders you to pay $1,000 a month in child support. But what do you do when this situation is no longer workable? What do you do when your ex-spouse begins neglecting the children or your employment changes and you can no longer afford the $1,000 monthly payment? The answer, file a modification.

A modification does what it suggests. It allows you to go back before the court and request that the judge change a part or all of the controlling order. There are several reasons to bring a modification in a suit affecting the parent child relationship. But regardless of that reason, in order to be successful, you must show that there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either the children or the parents involved. You must then show that the modification you are requesting is in the best interest of the children.

The next question is, what counts as a material and substantial change in circumstances? Fortunately, Texas courts have construed the definition broadly. For example, if you were to lose your primary source of income, that would substantially effect your ability to pay child support. If your ex-spouse gets remarried and the new step-parent starts to physically abuse your children, that would substantially effect their wellbeing enough to warrant a modification. Even something as simple as your former employment didn’t allow you to have overnight possession of your children, but your new employment does would be substantial enough to request a modification.

In general you will need to wait at least a year after your divorce before attempting to file a modification. However, should there be a compelling reason to file a modification, you should do so. However, do not file a modification that is meritless and intended just to make life hard for your ex-spouse. If the judge determines that you filed a frivolous motion you will likely be punished and ordered to pay the other parties attorney’s fees.