Relocating After a Texas Divorce

After a divorce between parents in Texas, it is not uncommon for one parent to move to another town, city, county, or even state with his/her children. However, the relocating parent may need to obtain permission from the non-moving parent and modify the current child custody orders. 

Child Custody in Texas 

Texas family courts generally award divorcing parents “joint managing conservatorship”—while other states refer to this arrangement as joint legal custody—over their children, unless there is a history of domestic violence, alcohol/drug addiction, or any other forms of parental misconduct. Through a written agreement known as a “parenting plan,” the parents can create their own agreement and determine whether one or neither parent is the “primary” parent, which means the parent who the child will live with. 

The parents can develop a “shared possession schedule” and figure out how each parent will spend time with their child. If the parents cannot agree, then the court can make the decision on their behalf. Not only will a judge designate a primary parent, but he/she will also determine a geographic area that is considered within the child’s primary residence and a visitation schedule for the other parent to follow. 

When it comes to relocation, the custody orders prevent the primary parent from moving out of a specific area, which is typically outside of the county or surrounding region. Thus, if a parent wants to relocate to another state with their children, he/she needs to notify the other parent and obtain a court order. 

If the Non-Moving Parent Approves Relocation 

When the non-moving parent agrees to the proposed move, the parents must either modify the current custody order or create a new parenting plan. Since the court encourages both parents to have a continuous and loving relationship with their children, perhaps the relocating parent will have the kids during the school year, while the non-moving parent will have them for an extended period during the summer breaks and holidays. The new arrangement must also consider transportation and travel costs. 

If the Non-Moving Parent Opposes Relocation 

If the non-moving parent disapproves of the proposed move, he/she may obtain a temporary restraining order in court and a relocation hearing. Each relocation case is handled on a case-by-case basis, so long as the move is in the child’s best interests. 

The following are several factors the court will consider in relocation cases: 

  • The reasons for the relocation (e.g., better job opportunities and more income for the children, being closer to family to help care for and support the children, etc.) 

  • How the relocation would impact existing family relationships and community ties 

  • If the relocation would provide the children with a better standard of living and quality of life 

  • If the purpose of the move is to interfere with the non-moving parent’s relationship with the children 

  • If the non-moving parent can adhere to the new or modified parenting plan 

  • If the non-moving parent can afford to pay travel costs 

  • Both parents’ willingness to work together and adhere to the custody orders 

If you are interested in relocating with your child or contesting a proposed move in Austin, call Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 768-9737 or fill out our online contact form today to learn how we can help you. Serving families throughout Travis County and the surrounding area. 

Categories