In Texas, If you are awarded primary custody of your children following a divorce, there is typically a “geographical restriction” which stipulates that you are not allowed to relocate far from your original residence without the approval of your ex-spouse or permission from the court. Since the other parent has shared rights, this prevents you from relocating because it violates their rights as a parent. If you try to move without permission from your ex-spouse or the court, you will be violating your obligations within the child custody order, and you could be held in contempt of court.
If you have good reason to move, the first thing to do is submit a request to the court. This is done through a Petition for Modification. The burden is on the petitioning spouse to prove the case in Court. The Court will review your case, and determine if it has merit. Furthermore, they will determine if relocation is in the best interest of the child. In general, courts favor parents who share custody of a child to live in the same state. Unless there is a history of violence or domestic abuse, or your ex-spouse is convicted of a felony, it might be difficult to make your case for relocation. This can be one of the most difficult issues to deal with in a Texas courtroom and often requires multiple hearings and litigation.Factors That Courts Consider
As always, the courts will base their decision on the best interests of the child. A relocation will only be considered – not automatically allowed- if the court determines that it will benefit the child. The following factors will also be reviewed:
- How interested the other parent is in remaining close to the child;
- Connections to the new location (other family members, friends, etc);
- A viable alternative visitation schedule;
- The moving parent’s willingness to create a continued relationship between the child and the non-moving parent;
- The age and maturity of the child;
- The reason for the move;
- How much the child understands about the consequences of moving.
- This is just an example of the factors a Court considers when determining parental relocation.
In many instances, you are required to give your ex-spouse a 60-day notice before your intended relocation date. This gives you time to talk about the important issues attached to your relocation, such as visitation days, child support, and custody rights.
Remember, the court has final say when it comes to your relocation. It could prevent you from relocating, adjust the terms in your child custody agreement, or even order you to leave your child with the non-relocating parent if it finds that it is in the best interest of the child to stay.
With so much at stake, it would be a smart move to contact Texas family lawyer Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law firm so that we can help you put yourself in the best position to argue your relocation at court. We will help you create a strategy that can protect you and your child.
If you’re the non-relocating parent, we can also help you prevent a relocation. Attorney Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law firm will study your case to determine which course of action puts your child’s best interest first. Ms. Lyttle is a divorce and child custody attorney in Texas with experience litigating many family law matters including parental relocation.