Instructions & Forms for an Agreed Modification

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not legal advice and are not a substitute for the help of a lawyer.

These instructions explain the steps to change an existing custody, visitation, child support, or medical & dental support order when everyone agrees. 

For the instructions and forms combined, visit the Harris County Law Library's combined forms packets page.

Checklist Steps

Fill out the following starting formsPetition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship

This form (called the Petition) asks the judge to change the current order. (The Articles and Frequently Asked Questions included in this toolkit will help you understand your options. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions or need advice.)

Write the cause number and court number on the first page of the Petition just as it is written on the order you want to change. (Write these numbers at the top of any document you file in your modification case.)

Print your answers using blue or black ink. Do not leave blanks.

Who is the petitioner? You are the petitioner—the person asking the court to change the current court order. This is true even if you are listed as the respondent in the current order.

Who must be listed as a respondent? Any person listed as a party in the current order must be listed as a respondent. If the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division is listed as a party in the current order you must also list it as a respondent.

Note: The Petition asks for your address. Each respondent will get a copy of your Petition. If you are concerned about a respondent knowing your address, call the Family Violence Legal Line at 800-374-4673 for free advice.

Fill out these additional starting forms and attach them to your Petition if required for your case:

Fill out this additional starting form: Civil Case Information Sheet  

(NOTE: the Texas Supreme Court has repealed the rule requiring the civil case information sheet, so you may not need this form. If you are filing paper documents in person at the clerk's office, you should complete it and bring it anyway, however.).

 

Fill out this additional starting form if you cannot afford to pay the filing fee for your case. Call the district clerk’s office in the county where your child lives to learn the filing fee for your modification case.

Fill out the following ending forms:

Fill out this order form completely (except for the judge’s signature). When it’s time to finish your case, you will ask a judge to sign this Order Modifying the Parent Child Relationship form with one or more of the specific order forms below attached.

Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship

If child support will be changed fill out and attach this order form:

If medical and dental support will be changed, fill out and attach this order form:

If custody will be changed fill out and attach one of these order forms:

If possession (visitation) will be changed fill out and attach one of these possession order forms or use one of the sample modified possession order forms included with this article: Child Visitation & Possession Orders. Or hire a lawyer to help you write a possession order that meets the specific needs of your family.

Use this form if a non-parent will be the managing conservator of the children.

Fill out the following additional ending form if child support will be ordered, changed, or stopped: Income Withholding Order for Support

Some counties require your documents to be reviewed by an attorney, while others do not. You should speak with the district clerk's office or court coordinator in your county about local requirements. Even if it's not required, it’s a good idea to have a family law lawyer review your completed forms. Family law lawyers specialize in cases involving families, such as custody and support modification cases.

You can hire a lawyer just to review your forms. Hiring a lawyer for a limited purpose is called limited scope representation. You can then finish your case yourself. Use our Legal Help Directory to search for a lawyer referral organization in your county.

If you have a low income, you may be able to have your forms reviewed for free at a legal clinic. Use our Legal Events and Clinics page to search for free legal clinics in your area.

Make enough copies of your completed Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship to have one copy for you and one copy for each respondent.

Make copies of your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Courts only if you are asking the court to waive court costs.

You do not need copies of the Civil Case Information Sheet or the Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship.

File (turn in) your completed Petition and other starting forms with the court in the county where the current order was made.

You need to find out if your county has standing orders. If it does, you will need to attach a copy of the standing orders to your petition. 

  • To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.
  • To file your forms in person, take your Petition and additional starting forms (and copies) to the district clerk’s office in the county where the current order was made.

At the clerk’s office:

  • Turn in your Petition and other starting forms (and copies).
  • Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee).
  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for your case.
  • The clerk will “file-stamp” your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give you back your copies. There should be a copy for you and a copy for each respondent.

Note: If the child has lived in another Texas county for at least 6 months, you have the option of asking the court to transfer the case to the child’s new home county. You must file a Motion to Transfer at the same time you file your Petition. File your Petition and Motion to Transfer with the court in the county where the current order was made. Talk to a lawyer about whether a transfer makes sense for your case.

Note: If the child has lived in another state for at least the past 6 months, it is important to talk with a lawyer about where to file your case.

Give the other parent:

WARNING! Do not hand-deliver any papers to the other parent if there has been violence during your relationship, especially if a judge has signed a Protective Order ordering you or the other parent to stay away. You can have the other parent served instead. If you decide to have the other parent served, use the instructions in the checklist below for a default modification.

Ask the other parent to complete these 3 steps:

  1. Fill out and sign the Respondent’s Original Answer form or the Waiver of Service Only form.
    • The other parent can fill out and sign either form. The Waiver of Service Only form must be signed in front of a notary. If the other parent plans to sign the Waiver of Service Only form, tell the other parent to sign it in front of a notary at least one day after you filed the Petition. Otherwise, the other parent will have to redo it. If you filed your case after September 1, 2023, the Waiver can be signed electronically with a virtual notary.
    • The Respondent’s Original Answer form does not have to be signed in front of a notary.
    • Note: If the other parent will not fill out and sign a Respondent’s Original Answer form or Waiver of Service Only form, you must have the other parent served by a constable, sheriff, or private process server. Use the instructions and forms for a default modification.
  2. Sign the completed Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship form with completed order forms regarding the issues you want changed attached.
    • The Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship form must be completely filled out and the specific order forms regarding the issues you want changed must be attached when the other parent signs the order. You cannot make changes to the order forms after the order has been signed by a respondent, unless the respondent initials each change.
  3. Return the signed forms to you.

You should also:

  • Sign the Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship form, and
  • Make a copy of the Respondent’s Original Answer form or Waiver of Service Only form that was filled out and signed by the other parent.

IMPORTANT: If anyone else was named as a respondent in your Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship, you must follow these same steps for each respondent.

If the other parent or other respondent will not sign an Answer or Waiver of Service Only form, you must have him or her served. 

If the other parent or other respondent signs and files an Answer or Waiver of Service Only form but will not sign the Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship form, your case is contested. To finish a contested case, you must set a contested final hearing. You must give each respondent at least 45 days’ notice of the final hearing. Read this article to learn more: How to Set a Contested Final Hearing (Family Law). It’s always best to have a lawyer if your case is contested. 

CHANGE IN LAW! All cases filed after September 1, 2023, no longer need to exchange the previously mandatory Required Initial Disclosures. If your case was filed before September 1, 2023, after a party to a family law case (like a custody modification suits) files an answer, both sides are obligated to exchange certain information and documents within 30 days. The form is here: Required Initial Disclosures in SAPCRs and Modifications. See Rule 11 Agreements for information (and forms) about one way to waive required disclosures by agreement.

If the other parent and anyone else named as a respondent has filled out and signed a Respondent’s Original Answer form or Waiver of Service Only form and signed your completed Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship form, you can go to court to finish your agreed modification case.

  • Call the clerk’s office to learn when and where the court hears uncontested cases.
  • Bring these papers with you to the courthouse on the day you plan to finish your case.
  • A file-stamped copy of your Petition to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship, 
  • The Answer or Waiver of Service Only form signed by each Respondent,
  • A completed Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship signed by you and each Respondent, and
  • A completed Income Withholding Order for Support if child support will be changed or stopped.
  • Read the article Tips for the Courtroom for more information about going to Court.
  • When you get to the courthouse, go to the clerk’s office. Ask if you need the court file or docket sheet (list of what has been filed in your case).
  • When you get to the courtroom, tell the clerk you are there and give the clerk your paperwork. Sit down until the judge calls your case.
  • When the judge calls your case, walk to the front of the courtroom and stand in front of the judge’s bench. The judge will have you raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth. Be prepared to quickly tell the judge what orders you are asking the judge to change and why the change or changes you are asking for would be in your child’s best interest. It’s a good idea to write down everything you want to say so you can read it to the judge if you get nervous.
  • The judge will listen to what you say and review your papers. If everything is in order the judge will sign your Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship.

After the judge signs your Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship, go back to the clerk’s office.

  • File (turn in) the signed Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship and any other orders signed by the judge. Your modification case is NOT final until you do so.
  • Get a certified copy of your Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship and any other orders signed by the judge from the clerk while you are there. The clerk may charge a fee for the certified copies.
  • If child support was ordered, ask the clerk what you need to do to set up a child support account. If child support was changed or terminated, ask the clerk to send a copy of the income withholding order for support to the employer of the person who is or was ordered to pay child support.
  • Complete and submit the Record of Support Order to the county’s clerk of the court to set up the child support account.

Send a file-stamped copy of the Order Modifying the Parent-Child Relationship to each respondent.

Follow these additional steps if they apply:

  • If you were ordered to pay child support, cash medical support, or dental support, learn about payment options here: Texas Attorney General - Child Support Payment Options. If you have any questions, call the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division at 800-252-8014. Do not send child support payments directly to the other parent.
  • If the other parent was ordered to pay child support, medical support, or dental support to you and doesn’t pay, you can contact the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division for help enforcing your order.

Source URL: https://texaslawhelp.org/checklist/instructions-forms-for-an-agreed-modification