Child Custody and Relocation in Texas
RELOCATION RESTRICTIONS IN CHILD CUSTODY PARENTING PLAN
Texas law presumes that both parents should stay involved with a child’s life, if possible, and any parenting arrangement will be geared towards allowing this to happen. Divorcing spouses can work out a “parenting plan” together that sets up custody, visitation, and other aspects of your relationship with your child and your ex-spouse, and which can be incorporated into a court’s final divorce decree.
Parenting plans generally contain a geographic restriction on the child’s residence, particularly if you are the parent of your child’s primary residence. If you are moving to another home within the same school district, city, or county, you likely do not need the approval of your ex or the court. But if you want to relocate somewhere on the other side of Texas, or to a different state entirely, you will be unable to realistically accommodate a parenting plan that calls for weekly or monthly visits by the other parent. If you want to move, you will need to either get your ex-spouse’s approval or try to modify the parenting plan and the divorce decree.
MODIFYING YOUR TEXAS DIVORCE DECREE TO MOVE
If the existing divorce decree limits your ability to move, and your spouse does not agree to you moving, you will need to petition the court to modify the decree. Texas courts focus on the best interests of the child in determining whether to modify a divorce decree to allow one parent to relocate with the child. Whether a court permits the modification will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. You will need to consider what visitation arrangements make sense, and you may wish to have a study done of your home and even a psychological evaluation of your children on the potential impact of moving. You will also need to present a plan for covering the increased costs of visitation for the other parent.