What to Consider About Child Custody Before Moving Out Of State

women on computer with moving boxes

After finalizing a Texas divorce, it is not uncommon for a divorced parent to move to another part of the state far away from home or another state entirely with his/her children. However, a moving parent cannot simply pack their belongings and relocate with the kids – even if he/she is the designated custodial parent. 

Joint Managing Conservatorship in Texas 

Texas courts generally award divorced or separated parents “joint managing conservatorship,” which refers to “joint legal custody” in several states. This means both parties share the right to make major decisions about the child’s life, from where the child will live and where he/she goes to school to medical and religious matters. 

Parents can create a joint managing conservatorship arrangement themselves and file a “parenting plan” with the court. In this case, a “primary” parent does not need to be established and the parents can make a “shared possession schedule” to determine when and where each party will spend time with their child. In addition, this agreement can specify that the child’s residence must remain within a specific geographic area.  

However, if both parties cannot agree on an arrangement, then a judge will decide custody issues based on the best interests of the child. The court will designate a primary parent and establish a geographic area where the primary parent can maintain the child’s residence. 

Moving with a Child 

The relocating parent must first obtain a court order that allows him/her to move with the child – whether the noncustodial parent agrees to the proposed move or not. Therefore, the parent cannot just leave with the child. 

If the non-moving parent agrees with the proposed move, the process of modifying a current custody order can be easier. On the other hand, if the non-moving parent disapproves of the relocation, then he/she may request a relocation hearing and even obtain a temporary restraining order to prevent the move. 

At the relocation hearing, a judge will examine the reasons for and against the move. The courts will factor in how the move will affect community ties and existing family relationships. 

Common reasons the court may allow relocation include: 

  • A job opportunity with more income to provide the child with additional support and doesn’t exist within the geographic area 

  • Being closer to more family members who can help care for the child 

  • Greater opportunities for the child (e.g., education, sports, and other extracurricular activities). 

The court will also consider how relocation would impact the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent, the non-moving parent’s ability to manage a new or alternative visitation schedule, and the travel expenses associated with the modified arrangement. 

In the end, the court wants to assess the overall situation to decide if the move would provide the child with a better quality of life and standard of living. If the judge suspects that the primary parent is moving in order to interfere with the non-moving parent’s relationship with the child, the move will be denied. 

Let The Law Office of Rebecca J. Carrillo Help You & Your Child 

Whether you wish to relocate for better opportunities or prevent a parent from moving with your child, our legal team is here to determine the best course of action. We can evaluate your situation, figure out all your legal options, and help you obtain the most favorable outcome in court. 

If you are dealing with a child custody matter in San Antonio, call (210) 405-6623 or contact us online today to schedule an initial consultation. Our firm has provided compassionate and personalized legal services since 2009! 

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