Sharing custody of minor children is often a real challenge for parents. Frequently seeing one another to exchange children can provoke emotional reactions, and having limited access to the children whom a parent loves is never easy.
Some parents in Texas who are trying to make their shared custody arrangements work will find themselves facing what seems like an insurmountable challenge. When one of the parents wants to leave Texas, possibly for a new romantic relationship or a job offer, the other may worry about what that move would mean for their relationship with their children.
Can one parent pack up and leave Texas with the children when there is a shared custody order in place and the family currently lives in Texas?
Major moves require pre-approval
Those subject to a custody order cannot simply do whatever they want in life. They have to abide by that custody order or obtain permission for any significant deviations from it. A parent intending to move far enough away from the other parent or their current residence that the relocation would affect custody exchanges will typically need to notify both the courts and the other parent of their intention to relocate.
Sometimes, both parents agree that the opportunity would be worthwhile and beneficial for the children. They can potentially rework the custody arrangement to accommodate the significant distance between households. Perhaps the children will spend summer vacation with one parent to make up for spending the school year elsewhere. When the parents are in agreement, they can submit paperwork for an uncontested custody modification.
When the parents disagree about whether the move is appropriate or how they would adjust custody to accommodate the relocation, they may need to go to court to litigate their custody arrangements. A judge hearing a relocation request will consider what they think would be best for the children.
While the courts cannot technically prevent one parent from relocating, they can drastically alter the custody arrangement so that the children will not leave the state with them. The outcome of litigated move-away cases depends on the judge’s perspective.
Those preparing to go to court to litigate a custody modification should keep in mind that the judge will always care more about what is best for the children than what the parents wish. Understanding the rules that apply to changing custody orders will benefit those who are trying to co-parent in Texas and who may be currently grappling with some tough decisions.