Relocation After a Texas Divorce

Adult holding a child's hand

About Child Custody

Absent domestic violence in the family, Texas law starts with a presumption that it is in the child’s best interests for both parents to be involved in making decisions about the child’s life. When married parents file for divorce or unmarried parents split up, Texas courts often appoint the parents as joint managing conservators over their child.

Joint managing conservatorship means both parents will share the right to make important decisions in their child’s life. However, one right that is usually exclusive to one parent is the right to establish where the child’s primary residence is located. The parent with the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child is often referred to casually as the primary parent, though the term primary parent is written nowhere in the law.

The Child’s Primary Residence

If the child’s parents create their own parenting plan, they may either determine who is the primary parent with or without limiting that right to a geographical boundary or state that neither one is the primary parent by agreeing that the child’s residence will remain within a specific geographic area. In either instance, 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 schedule for his or her periods of possession of the child.

After Divorce, 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. However, upon a motion to the court or by agreement of the parties, the geographical restriction can be lifted for compelling reasons.

Common compelling reasons include:

· The other parent has moved outside of the geographical restriction

· The moving parent has received a job offer or better work opportunity

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

· Re-marriage of the moving party

· Better housing sought

· Education opportunities

If the move is contested and a hearing is required to consider if the primary parent can move outside the geographical restriction, the Court will also take into consideration how the move will affect the other parent’s current ability to still exercise parenting time with the child, if the other parent can work with an alternative parenting time 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 or 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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