Custody Relocation Litigation in Texas
Say you get a once-in-a-lifetime job offer that would be an incredible opportunity for you and your family. You take it, right? But what if that job happens to be in another state other than Texas and you have custody or joint custody of your kids in Texas? Your ex-spouse has no plans on moving. What do you do? What can you do? Custody relocation litigation is not always clear cut, and you may need to get the courts involved. First of all, a Texas court cannot stop you from moving. The court can only prevent you from moving your kids with you. It is a complicated matter and can often be more contentious than your original custody battle. According to Texas Family Code, the parent who is sole managing conservator has the right and duty to designate the primary residence of a child. When the divorce decree was created, the two parties had to agree, or the court decided if there is a geographical restriction on that right. In the absence of a geographic restriction a parent may relocate to a new home with the kids without court approval. That’s not to say the other party has no rights. They can petition for a modification to impose a geographic restriction or try to change the original custody agreement. After a divorce, many people move to be closer to family, because of a new spouse, or for a new job. It is not uncommon. If you desire to relocate with your children and your ex-spouse opposes it, the court will balance your right to live wherever you desire with the right of the other parent to maintain a continuous and uninterrupted relationship with the child. Accordingly, the necessity for the move together with your motivation for doing so is an essential factor in the court’s decision whether to allow the children to relocate with you. You must also show that it is in the best interest of the kids that the move be allowed. If the court believes the motivation is vindictive or frivolous, the court will not allow the relocation. Some facts to explore when trying to convince the court if a move is good might be: Does the move present a better life for the children? Are there advantages to the new location? Are educational opportunities better in the newly desired location? Is family close by to offer a support network? What are the child’s feelings about the move? What is the current relationship with the child and non-custodial parent? How involved is the child with the non-custodial parent? The Courts and Relocation Litigation The court’s responsibility is to balance a parent’s desire to move to create a better life for the child with the non-relocating parent’s need to continue to have a healthy relationship with their child(ren). Family law judges often say it is one the hardest legal decisions they have to make. If the court should allow the parent and child to move, it is important to try to continue to keep the relationship between the non-custodial parent and child strong. Communications have advanced so much, and there are many great ways to keep in touch regularly including Facetime, Skype, and texting. It is also a good idea to work out visiting arrangements that are fair. You want the non-moving parent to be able to continue the relationship with the child even though it might not be face-to-face as often or the same way it used to be. For questions on custody relocation litigation laws, please contact us for a free consultation at Puhl Law Group, P.C.