Parental Relocation and Child Custody in Texas: Can a Divorced Parent Relocate with the Child?

picture of a family split, man cut out from picture

Moving to another city, state, or country can help you reboot your life and get a fresh start. However, if you want to relocate with your child following a divorce, relocation may not be as straightforward as it may seem. 

You need to consult with an attorney if you wish to relocate with your child when you and your former spouse share joint custody. Texas courts take parental relocation cases very seriously because a parent relocating to another city, state, or country could result in the possible separation of the child from the non-moving parent. 

Regardless of why you want to relocate (a new job, fresh start, educational opportunities, etc.), contact our Florence divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to determine if you can relocate with your child following your divorce in Texas. 

What is Considered Parental Relocation?

Parental relocation is a legal term used to describe a parent’s desire to move with their child to another city, state, or country. Typically, the parent who wants to relocate shares child custody (conservatorship) rights with the child’s other parent. 

Typically, child custody agreements contain provisions with geographic restrictions, not to mention that Texas Family Code § 153.313 provides special provisions when parents reside 100 miles or more apart. 

If you and the other parent of your child are divorced, you may want to have an experienced attorney review the terms of your child custody agreement to determine if parental relocation is possible. 

Even if your custody agreement restricts your ability to relocate with your child, it may be possible to modify your agreement and seek the judge’s approval of your requested relocation. In Texas, parental relocation requests must be approved by a judge because a parent’s move may affect the other parent’s relationship with their child and/or ability to see their child frequently. 

If you are planning to relocate with your child, contact an experienced attorney to help you ensure that your request for relocation is approved. 

How to Relocate with Your Child After a Texas Divorce? 

There are two possible ways to get your request for parental relocation approved in Texas: by reaching an agreement with the child’s other parent or through court intervention. Either way, you will need a judge to approve your request for relocation before moving with your child. 

  1. You can reach an agreement with your former spouse. Often, parental relocation cases are resolved by two parents reaching an agreement out of court. Even if both parents have reached an agreement, they may still need to address custody-related issues in court. Issues that may need to be addressed include changes in the child support obligation, changes in visitation schedules, travel expenses for visitation, and many more. It is advisable to contact an attorney to ensure that the agreement you reached with the child’s other parent is enforceable. 

  2. You need court intervention. Many parents cannot reach an agreement regarding parental relocation after a divorce, especially when the non-moving parent opposes the other parent’s desire to move. For example, the non-moving parent may believe that the other parent’s relocation is an attempt to alienate their kids. When the moving and non-moving parents have disputes regarding relocation, they will need to go to court to address their disagreement. The court will have to make a decision based on the child’s best interests. 

Contact our child custody attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to discuss possible parental relocation in your particular case. 

What Are the Geographic Restrictions for Parental Relocation? 

It is not uncommon for child custody agreements and divorce decrees to include geographic restrictions that restrict where the child or children involved can reside. The purpose of the geographic restrictions is to ensure that both parents have continuing and frequent contact with their children following a divorce. 

If you want to relocate with your child, but your custody agreement or divorce decree contains geographic restrictions, speak with an attorney to determine how you can move to another city, state, or country without violating a court order. 

If geographic restrictions or any other provisions in your agreement or decree are preventing you from relocating with your child, you will need a knowledgeable lawyer to modify the agreement and/or lift the restrictions. 

Parental Relocation and the Child’s Best Interests

As with any custody issues related to children, Texas courts consider the child’s best interests when approving or denying a parent’s request for parental relocation. A judge will examine a wide range of factors when considering the best interests of the child. When determining whether or not to approve a parent’s request for relocation, a judge will look into the following factors:

  • The child’s age

  • The child’s relationship with the moving and non-moving parents

  • How the proposed relocation would affect the child’s wellbeing

  • How the proposed relocation would affect the child-parent relationship

  • Whether the proposed living arrangements are safe for the child

  • The child’s ability to adjust to new living arrangements

  • The moving parent’s motivation to relocate

  • Both parents’ ability to co-parent effectively after relocation takes place

A judge will consider these and many other things when reviewing a parent’s request for relocation. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine whether or not relocation would be in the child’s best interests. A skilled attorney on your side will help you convince the judge that the move to a new city, state, or country is beneficial for everyone involved, including your children. 

Consult with a Florence Divorce Attorney

Each case is unique, which is why it is best to speak with an attorney to discuss your particular situation. At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our divorce attorneys are committed to helping you advocate for your rights and protect your child’s best interests. Our goal is to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your case. 

Consult with our divorce attorneys if you are considering parental relocation. Call (254) 220-4225 to get a free case review.

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