Is relocation best for your child?

It is not uncommon for a spouse to survive the breakup of a marriage, the difficult divorce and the heart wrenching custody dispute, only to learn one day that the other parent is planning to move away with the children. In some cases, this is because the other parent has an offer for a dream job with a hefty salary increase, but other times, the ex may be moving closer to family or moving away with a new spouse.

Whether you are the parent who is moving away or you have learned of your ex's intentions, you have another difficult battle ahead. Child relocation is often the one family law issue where no compromise is possible. Someone will win, and someone will lose. It will be critical for you to plan the argument you will present to the court as carefully and thoroughly as possible.

Factors the court will look at

For family law courts, the best interests of the child almost always include equal access to both parents. Even the offer of a higher paying job that will provide better material opportunities may not be enough to persuade a Texas judge to modify a custody order to separate children from a loving parent. In the interests of doing what is best for your child, the court will carefully weigh the evidence you present along with the following factors:

  • How old is your child? The court may feel it is not wise to move a pre-teen son far from his father or a toddler away from the mother.
  • What is the child's opinion? An older, more mature child may have a clear preference about where he or she wants to live.
  • How far away is the move? Moving outside the geographic boundaries in the custody order includes the burden of maintaining as much access to the other parent as possible.
  • What are the intentions of the parent requesting the move? If your ex is moving away with the kids simply to prevent you from seeing them, you have every right to fight the relocation.

The court will be looking at how the relocating parent intends for the move to benefit the children. If you expect that relocating will improve the quality of life for your children, you should be ready to prove it. On the other hand, if you are fighting to prevent the move, be prepared to present solid evidence that your children would be better off where they are. This difficult argument may best be formulated with the assistance of a family law attorney.

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