You can ask a judge to change a custody, visitation, child support or medical support order by filing a modification case.
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Supported decision-making allows individuals to make their own decisions and stay in charge of their lives, while receiving the help and assistance they need to do so. All people need and use support to make important life decisions. Even if a person with a disability needs extra help to make significant life decisions, their right to make their own choices should not be taken away. Using a supported decision-making agreement, a person with a disability chooses someone they trust to serve as their supporter.
Under a supported decision-making agreement, the supporter CAN help a person with a disability:
- Understand the options, responsibilities, and consequences of their decisions.
- Obtain and understand information relevant to their decisions.
- Communicate their decisions to the appropriate people.
Under a supported decision-making agreement, the supporter CANNOT make a decision for a person with a disability.
Either parent can file a modification case.
If you are not the child’s parent, you can file a modification case if:
- You are listed as a party in the current order. or
- You have had actual care, control and possession of the child for at least 6 months ending not more than 90 days before the date you file the modification case with the court and you are not a foster parent. or
- You have lived with the child and the child’s parent, guardian or conservator for at least 6 months ending not more than 90 days before the date you file the modification case, and the child’s parent, guardian or conservator has died. or
- You are the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew and:
- Both parents are dead. or
- Both parents, the surviving parent or managing conservator agree. - or -
- The child’s present circumstances will significantly harm the child’s physical health or emotional development.
The Texas Attorney General Child Support Division can also file a modification case.
Maybe. Learn when the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division can help and how to apply for their services here: Texas Attorney General - Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support Modifications.
A supported decision-making agreement may be entered into by an adult with a disability, defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” The adult with a disability must voluntarily agree to the supported decision-making agreement and cannot be pressured into entering a supported decision-making agreement.
The law does not establish a specific level of capacity required for an individual to enter into a supported decision-making agreement. The individual should have the ability to understand that he or she needs assistance in making particular decisions, to choose a trusted friend or trusted family to be his or her supporter and be able to make decisions with the help of the supporter.
You must file a modification case in the Texas county where the current order was made.
If the child has lived in another Texas county for the last 6 months, you must still file the modification case in the county where the current order was made. However, 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 to Modify the Parent-Child Relationship. Talk to a lawyer about whether this makes sense for your case.
If your child has lived in another state for the last 6 months, talk with a lawyer about where to file your case. Use our Legal Help Finder tool for help finding a private lawyer or free or low-cost legal help in your area.
Through Supported Decision Making, any adult may be a supporter. Usually it is a family member or friend. The adult with a disability must choose who will serve as his or her supporter. The individual should pick someone they trust. A supported decision-making agreement is based on trust. An adult with a disability cannot be told whom to select as his or her supporter.
To change child support or medical support you must prove that:
- The circumstances of the child, a conservator or other person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed. -or-
- It has been at least three years since the last child support order, and a new support order, based on child support guidelines, would differ from the last support order by at least 20% or $100.
The legal standards for modifying child support changed September 1, 2018. See below and read Texas Family Code chapter 156.401.
If, however, you and the other parent made an agreement about the amount of child support in the orders, then the legal standard might be different. If you and the other parent agreed to a current child support amount that is different than what the percentage guidelines in the Texas Family Code would have required, then you will not be able to modify the child support amount simply because it has been three years since the last orders were signed and the monthly child support obligation differs by 20% or $100 from the order.
In this situation, you can only modify the child support order if you can show that the “circumstances of the child, a conservator or other person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed.”
The Family Code does not define “material and substantial change,” and proving this depends on the facts of each case. Usually, in order to determine if the circumstances have materially and substantially changed, the court will look at the circumstances at the time the agreement on child support was made and ordered and compare them to the circumstances at the time of the modification seeking to change that child support agreement.
Also, if your order is an order in a Title IV-D (Attorney General) case and does not include orders for medical support or dental support for the child, then a court may modify the orders without anyone having to show that there has been a material change in circumstances since the last orders were entered.
This information is not a substitute for the legal advice and counsel of a lawyer. A lawyer is trained to protect your legal rights. Even if you decide to represent yourself, talk to a lawyer about modifying your child support before filing anything. Use the TexasLawHelp Legal Help Finder tool for assistance in locating a lawyer.
In supported decision making, the adult with a disability may allow his or her supporter to:
- Help gather information needed for a life decision
- Support the decision-making process by helping the adult evaluate and understand the options and consequences, and
- Communicate that decision to other parties.
The agreement may be established for one specific decision or for many decisions. The agreement may be customized to fit the situation as long as it is substantially similar to the statutory form.
To change custody or visitation you must prove that the change is in your child’s best interest and that at least one of the following is true:
- The circumstances of the child, a conservator or other person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed. or
- The child is at least 12-years-old and tells the judge (in the judge’s chambers), who the child wants to live with. or
- The person with primary custody has allowed someone else to have primary care and possession of the child for at least 6 months. (This does not apply if the person with primary custody is on active duty military deployment.)
The supporter has no authority to make the decisions for the adult with a disability. The supporter is only allowed to assist the individual with whatever is specified in the agreement. The supporter helps the individual gather information and understand that information in order to make an informed decision. The supporter can also assist the person with a disability in communicating the decision to the necessary third parties. The supporter merely assists the individual—the individual with a disability is “the decider.”
The adult keeps the right to make the decisions, including where to live, with whom to live, where to work, and what supports and services they want. The individual can reject the advice of the supporter or make life decisions without the assistance of the supporter
A power of attorney grants another person the authority to make decisions and handle matters without input from the individual. A supported decision-making agreement does not give the supporter the power to make decisions. The person with a disability retains right to make decisions for himself or herself.
A Supported decision-making agreement could be used in conjunction with other alternatives to guardianship such as powers of attorney and representative payee for social security or SSI benefits. The use of other alternatives to guardianship with a supported decision-making agreement should be consistent with the goal of promoting self-determination of the person with a disability and avoiding a full guardianship.
You will usually need a court order to change your name.
If you were recently married, you may be able to change your last name to your spouse’s last name without a court order by providing proof of your marriage to the social security office and driver’s license office. See How to Change Information on Your Driver License or ID Card and How do I change or correct my name on my Social Security number card?
If you need a court order, you can use the forms in this toolkit.
You will probably need a court order to change your name from the name currently on your birth certificate to the name you have always used. You can contact the Texas Vital Statistics Unit to discuss your situation. If you need a court order, you can use the forms in this toolkit.
If the court ordered your name changed in your Final Decree of Divorce, your name is changed. However, it is your responsibility to have your official documents (such as your social security card and driver’s license or state identification card) changed to show your new name.
If the court did not order your name changed in your Final Decree of Divorce, your name is not changed.
It is your responsibility to have your official documents changed to show your new name. You will need a certified copy of the court order changing your name for each agency. Get certified copies from the district clerk’s office in the county where your name was changed.
To change your social security card, take or mail a certified copy of the order changing your name to your local social security office. For more information, contact the U.S. Social Security Administration.
To change your driver’s license or state identification card, you must take a certified copy of the order changing your name to a Texas Department of Public Safety office. For more information, contact the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
To change your name on your voter registration card, notify your County Voter Registrar in writing. For more information, contact the Texas Secretary of State.
To change your name on your passport, notify the U.S. State Department.
You can also change your name on your birth certificate if you choose, but it is not required. If you wish to change your birth certificate, you will need to get an Application to Amend Certificate of Birth from the Texas Vital Statistics Unit.
Maybe. In general, a court will change your name if the court finds that the name change would be in your interest and the public’s interest. You must provide information about your criminal record and the judge will consider that information when deciding whether to change your name.
A court cannot change your name if you have a felony conviction, unless you provide proof that:
- you have been pardoned,
- it has been at least two years since you were discharged from prison or completed probation, or
- you are asking to change your name to the primary name used in your criminal history record information.
A court cannot change your name If you are required to register as a sex offender, unless you also provide proof that you notified your local law enforcement authority that you are asking the court to change your name.