Can One Parent Leave The State With Children After Divorce?

Divorce is a tumultuous event, and its complexities are amplified when children are involved. One question that frequently surfaces is whether a parent can relocate with the children out of Texas following a divorce.

This blog post delves deeper into the legal intricacies surrounding moving out of state. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced Tomball child custody lawyer about your specific situation. Contact Bolton Law today.

Child Custody Laws in Texas

In the state of Texas, any divorce proceeding involving children is guided by the principle of the “best interest of the child.” This principle is paramount in all decisions related to child custody (referred to as “conservatorship” in Texas) and visitation (known as “possession and access”).

Texas law operates under the presumption that joint managing conservatorship (joint custody) aligns with the child’s best interest. In this arrangement, both parents share rights and responsibilities concerning their child, which include making decisions about the child’s education, health care, and other significant matters.

The Legalities of Moving Out of State

If a parent wishes to relocate out of state with the child post-divorce, it’s not as straightforward as packing up and leaving. The parent must take into account the existing custody order, which usually includes geographic restrictions.

Geographic restrictions are commonplace in Texas custody orders. They typically stipulate that the child must reside within a specific area, usually the county where the divorce was granted or a neighboring county. This requirement is designed to facilitate regular and ongoing contact between the child and both parents, which is deemed beneficial for the child’s emotional development.

If a parent intends to move outside these geographic restrictions, they must seek a modification of the custody order from the court. This involves demonstrating that the move aligns with the best interest of the child.

Factors Courts Consider

When evaluating a request to modify a custody order to permit a move, courts will consider several factors:

  • Reason for relocation: The court will assess why the parent wishes to relocate. Legitimate reasons might include a job opportunity or being closer to family who can provide support and care for the child.
  • Impact on access for non-moving parent: The court will consider how the move will affect the non-moving parent’s ability to maintain a relationship with their child.
  • Child’s preferences: The child’s age and level of maturity will be taken into account in order to determine their preferences.

relocating to another state can be done by changing the custody order

Types of Child Custody in Texas

Joint Custody

Typically, parents who are going through a divorce can come to a mutual agreement to co-parent their child. It’s common for these parents to share joint custody of their children. Even post-trial, it’s not unusual for courts to grant joint custody to the parents.

However, there are cases where one parent is awarded custody and the other is granted visitation rights only. The determination made by a Texas court is contingent on the specifics of each individual case.

In the majority of custody orders, parents are designated as Joint Managing Conservators (JMCs). A court will typically mandate JMC unless there is a valid reason to refrain from doing so, such as instances of domestic violence. A standard JMC order usually necessitates that parents jointly make decisions regarding their child’s education, medical care, and other similar matters.

Sole Custody

If the court concludes that joint custody is not feasible, then typically, one parent will be granted sole custody. It is generally presumed by law that allowing the other parent visitation rights is in the best interest of the child. In making these decisions, the court may take into account a variety of factors that are specific to each case.

According to Texas law, it is anticipated that both parents will have shared custody unless one parent is demonstrated or deemed to be unsuitable. In order to obtain sole custody of a child in Texas, a spouse has the option to apply for either possessory conservatorship (which pertains to physical custody) or managing conservatorship (which relates to legal custody).

Our Family Law Attorneys Are Here to Help

While it is possible for one parent to leave Texas with their children after divorce, it involves a complex legal process. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney at Bolton Law who can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances. Contact us at 281-351-7897.