Your custody arrangement may have seemed just right when you signed it, including provisions on the geographic location of your child’s primary residence. At the time, you were sure you’d find your perfect next job close by or be fine without the help of extended family who live far away.
Then life happened – your boss offered you a huge promotion in the Northeast or you realized you really need regular assistance from your parents who live in California. Can you move your child without permission from your ex? Do you need an updated custody order or will a verbal agreement with your ex suffice?
Best Interest of Child Comes First
In Texas, the courts always put the best interest of a child first when deciding and reevaluating custody issues. Unless your family had a history of abuse or violence, it’s likely you and your ex share custody of your children, meaning each of you has a say in any significant relocation.
Most custody orders specify the geographic area within which a child’s primary residence must be maintained. It might be within one county or a several county region. The orders may also note that parents remain within a certain geographic proximity of one another. Moves that fall within these boundaries usually don’t require legal notice or approval from the other parent.
Custody Modifications for Out-of-State Moves
A move outside the geographic stipulations, particularly to another state, is another matter. This type of move is likely to impact the other parent’s visitation rights and overall involvement in your child’s life. It might also affect your child’s wellbeing. Such a move generally requires a new custody order.
If you and your ex come to an amicable arrangement concerning your move and any other changes to the custody order, such as a new visitation schedule, a judge will likely approve the modifications. If, however, your former spouse doesn’t agree, you will have the burden of convincing the court there is a legitimate reason for your move. This occurs during a relocation hearing.
Impact on Ex and Child Considered
Legitimate reasons for an out-of-state move might include job relocation when you cannot find a comparable job in Texas, or a move to be closer to family who help support and care for your child. The court will limit any move it suspects is an attempt to interfere with an ex spouse’s parenting rights.
Before approving any requested custody order modifications, the court will consider the impact on your child as well as on your ex and the parent-child relationship. What’s the potential effect of uprooting your child from their community, friends, and school? Is there a way to avoid displacing your child? The court will also factor in how involved your ex is in your child’s life and consider the impact of alternate visitation schedules. Even travel expenses related to your ex’s visitation can play a role in the decision process.
What if my Ex Disagrees?
If your custody arrangement doesn’t restrict your child’s primary residence to a specific geographic area, you still should discuss your intentions with your ex. You should also obtain their permission before moving out of state.
If your ex disagrees, they can file a temporary restraining order to stop your move. If you violate the restraining order and move out of state anyway with your child, you could be subjected to felony charges of abduction.
Our Divorce Attorneys Can Help With Custody Questions
Divorce is challenging, but with Alexandra Geczi LLC, you are not alone. Our attorneys are here to help you discreetly navigate the process and protect your interests so that you can move forward into a bright, bold future. Contact us today at 214-974-4449.