Relocation After a Texas Divorce

Adult holding a child's hand

About Child Custody 

When married parents file for divorce, Texas courts often award “joint managing conservatorship” – also known as “joint legal custody” – over their child, unless there is a history of domestic violence or other parental misconduct. There is a presumption under state law that it is in the child’s best interests for both parents to be involved with his/her life. 

Joint managing conservatorship means both parents will share the right to make important decisions in their child’s life, such as their primary residence. Either the child’s parents or the court can create a “parenting plan,” which details how each parent will be a managing conservator or a possessory conservator, how each parent will share and divide decision-making responsibilities and rights, which parents have the right to decide the child’s main residence, if either parent will pay child support, and other issues. 

The Child’s Main Residence 

If the child’s parents create their own parenting plan, they may either determine who is the primary parent – the parent who is the only one with the right to decide where the child will live – or state that neither one is the primary parent by agreeing that the child’s residence will remain within a specific geographic area. If the latter is true, the parents can create a “shared possession schedule” that specifies how each parent will spend time with their child. 

If parents cannot come to an agreement, then the court will determine the parenting plan for them. In addition, the judge will designate which parent will be the primary parent and the geographic area where the primary parent can maintain the child’s residence, while the other parent will be given a visitation schedule. 

What If the Primary Parent Wishes to Relocate with the Child? 

In most cases, the primary parent cannot move outside of a particular area – generally the current county of residence plus any surrounding counties – without a court order. The other parent must also be notified of the desired move. 

If the other parent does not agree with the proposed relocation, he/she may file a temporary restraining order to prevent the primary parent from moving until a scheduled relocation hearing. At the hearing, the primary parent must provide a valid reason for the move. 

Common compelling reasons include: 

  • A job offer or better work opportunity 

  • Being closer to family, who will help care and support the child 

  • Re-marriage 

  • Better housing 

  • Education opportunities 

The court will also take into consideration how the move will affect the other parent’s current visitation arrangement, if the other parent can work with an alternative or new visitation schedule, how the new schedule will impact the child's relationship with the non-moving parent, and if the non-moving parent can afford travel expenses to visit his/her child. Each relocation case is handled on a case-by-case basis, which is why it is important to hire an experienced family law attorney to build a strong case. 

If you are interested in modifying a current child custody order in McKinney or within the surrounding area, contact Camille Borg Law PLLC today at (469) 646-7763 to discuss your case. 

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