Child custody is arguably one of the most contentious and complicated issues surrounding the divorce process. Basically, under the eyes of the law, any decision going forward involving a child should be made based on the child’s best interests, and in many cases, the courts have to step in to enforce this principle.
Among the custody disputes that may arise after a divorce is a parental relocation. Following a divorce, the custodial parent may need to relocate due to a number of reasons including job prospects, a new spouse, the need to be close to family members, and so on.
Regardless of the reason for wanting to relocate, a Texas court has to allow or disallow the move. So, whether you are looking to move or are opposing your former spouse’s intention to move, it is important that you get in touch with an experienced The Woodlands relocation lawyer at Bolton Law to help prove your case. Get in touch with our family law attorneys at 281-351-7897 to get the legal assistance that you need.
How Is It Determined Whether a Parent Can Relocate With a Child?
In the state of Texas, divorce orders include domicile restrictions that prohibit the parent with primary physical custody from moving beyond certain geographic restrictions determined by a judge. For the sake of the child, the judge may rule that the parent may not move outside the county the parents lived in when the divorce happened, one or two adjacent counties, or the state, as the judge deems fit.
When imposing geographic restrictions on the primary residence of the child, the judge considers things like family ties to certain locations, ties the child has to the community, the child’s access to their doctor, the child’s access to their school, among others.
For a parent to be allowed to move, they have to request a modification of the geographical residency restriction. Here, the parent can either choose to work with the non-custodial parent (the parent with visitation rights) to reach a new parenting agreement out of court and have it entered by a judge, or they can approach the court and request a modification.
Normally, the parenting agreement will contain a clause establishing the amount of notice needed to give the other parent enough time to contest the moving decision. In most cases, you have to give the other parent a notice at least 60 days before the date you are planning to move, after which the other parent will have 30 days to file a motion objecting to the relocation.
In the event that the other parent opposes the move, the parent who wishes to move has to prove to a judge that the move is in the child’s best interests. On the other hand, the opposing parent has to prove that the custodial parent’s motives are insincere and not based on the best interests of the child.
The parent who wishes to move with their child has to prove that their planned relocation is for a valid and legitimate purpose, it is reasonable considering the purpose, and is in the child’s best interests. Some of the relocation reasons favorably considered include:
- To give the child access to better educational opportunities
- To help the child better utilize a useful skill that they possess
- To give the custodial parent access to better employment opportunities that will ultimately benefit the child
- To move the child closer to other family members
- Failure of the other parent to uphold their end of the parenting agreement, and relocating would be in the child’s best interests
- The child having a condition that can be improved by moving into another area or seeking treatment elsewhere
In general, the judge will assess the parent’s motive for wanting to move and the impact it may potentially have on the child, and make a ruling based on what is in the best interest of the child.
Proving your case is not easy, and this is why it is crucial that you seek the assistance of an experienced The Woodlands relocation lawyer to present a compelling argument to the court. In the event that the judge denies the request to move and the custodial parent goes ahead with their plans, they can face severe legal consequences.
What Are Some of the Factors that May Be Considered When a Parent Wishes to Relocate with Their Child?
Prior to approving or denying a request to relocate outside the allowed geographic restrictions, the judge will carefully assess the following factors:
- The reason why the parent with primary custody wants to move
- The reason why the parent with secondary custody is opposed to the move
- The impact the move will potentially have on the quality and quantity of the child’s future contact with the noncustodial parent
- Whether the relocation benefits the child emotionally, socially, and economically
- The ability of the noncustodial parent to exercise their visitation rights in light of the move
- Whether the child agrees to or is against the move and the reason why
- Whether the move is aimed at giving the child access to better schools
- Whether the move is aimed at enabling the parent to secure a better-paying job or get an education that enables them to get a better-paying job, which ultimately benefits the child economically
- Whether the move is to get the child closer to other family members, for example, grandparents
In the event that the judge approves the request to move, they will modify the parenting plan to ensure that the needs and concerns of the non-custodial parent are sufficiently met. The judge may also make modifications to help cover the increased costs the non-custodial parent will incur exercising their visitation rights under the new circumstances.
Do I Need a Relocation Lawyer if I Wish to Move with My Child?
If you are planning a move with your child, you will need to seek the consent of the other parent. However, if they are opposed to the move, you will have a potentially fierce legal battle ahead. And in this case, you will need the best legal representation you can get.
You need an experienced The Woodlands relocation lawyer to represent your rights. You need someone with the ability to effectively present valid and compelling arguments in court on your behalf.
By working with an attorney who has experience handling Texas parental relocation cases, you will have a better chance of securing an outcome that is favorable to both you and your child.
As passionate as you might be about your children and their welfare, you should not proceed without capable legal representation. Remember, the other parent will also be determined to ensure that the child continues to stay in close proximity with them and will most likely have legal representation.
Get in Touch With an Experienced The Woodlands Relocation Lawyer!
If you are planning on moving with your child, you have certain rights under Texas parental relocation laws. This also applies if you are opposed to your former spouse’s plan to move with your children.
Ensuring that your rights are upheld is never easy especially when you don’t have experience with the law. Relocation is one of the most complex child custody issues and it won’t be in your best interests to go at it alone.
Our The Woodlands relocation attorneys at Bolton Law have years of experience handling parental relocation cases and they are prepared to help fight for your rights and ensure the best outcome for you and your child. We offer quality and effective personalized service to all our clients. Our reputation precedes us.