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What Happens When the Custodial Parent Wants to Relocate?

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

In the state of Texas, the court often will encourage joint custodial agreements. However, the final decision in regard to custody will always reflect the best interests of the child–and that could mean that either parent could be limited to visitation-only status.

Visitation rights are limited to the time designated by the standard possession order. Any time outside of that is dependent upon the custodial parents approval. What happens if the one of the parents decides to move?

Because possession and visitation are complicated matters, relocating can be a challenge. Oftentimes, the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent will need to head back to the courtroom.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about what can happen when a custodial parent wants to relocate.

Can a Custodial Parent Relocate Within the Same County?

Typically, a custodial parent can relocate within the same county as their current residence. As long as the relocation doesn’t disrupt the child’s ability to attend the same school and extracurricular activities, this type of relocation should not require a court date.

In some cases, a custodial parent may also relocate to an adjacent county. However, the custodial parent will need to bear in mind that Texas law does encourage that both parents have equal access to their child. If the move disrupts the non-custodial parent’s ability to fulfill their visitation rights, this relocation may require a court date.

What If a Custodial Parent Wants to Move Outside of the State?

It is not uncommon for a custodial parent to want to move to a new city or even outside of the state. As long as there is no court order in place that forbids the move, it may be possible for them to do so.

That being said, the custodial parent will be required to petition the court for permission to move–even if they are staying in-state but wish to relocate to another city.

Can a Non-Custodial Parent Object to the Relocation?

In addition to the court petition, custodial parents are required to provide a written notice of their intent to move to the non-custodial parent. This must be delivered 60 days or more before the intended moving date.

If the non-custodial parent agrees to the move, both parents must provide the court with a document of consent. This document must also include details about how both parents will navigate the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.

If the non-custodial parent does object to the move, they will need to file an appeal with the court. This will then allow both parents to present their arguments and evidence for and against the move in court.

What Custodial Parents Must Establish In Order to Move

The custodial parent who wishes to relocate must present evidence of a “material and substantial change in circumstances” that makes the move necessary and beneficial to the child. This is required whether or not the non-custodial parent objects.

Ultimately, if the court determines that the custodial parent is simply trying to deny the non-custodial parent access to the child, the relocation will be barred.

During the court hearing, the following will be considered:

  • The circumstances that make the relocation a necessary choice
  • How disruptive or beneficial the move will be for the child
  • How the move may influence the child’s education, extracurricular activities, and relationships with other siblings or relatives

Examples of Compelling Evidence for the Necessity of a Relocation

To get a better idea of what a custodial parent will need to prove in order to move, let’s take a look at possible reasons that the court may accept.

Oftentimes, custodial parents wish to relocate for their job. For example, relocating may help them secure a raise or promotion that would have a positive financial impact for both them and the child.

Custodial parents may also wish to move in order to access a better education for the child. For example, if a child has special needs, the parent may seek a school district that is able to accommodate those needs in ways that the child’s current school district cannot.

Finally, another common example of compelling evidence is the presence of family members who can provide crucial childcare. The custodial parent may wish to move closer to a parent or adult sibling who will help improve the child’s quality of life.

When Should Parents Hire a Child Custody Lawyer?

If the custodial parent wishes to relocate out of state (or to another city), a court date will almost always be required. If the move is contested, both parents are advised to hire a child custody lawyer.

At the end of the day, you want what’s best for your child. If your former spouse or partner does not have their best interest in mind or is making it difficult for you to exercise your parental rights, you should seek legal representation. Texas custody laws are not always easy to navigate, and having legal help will improve your odds of maintaining your rights as a parent.

We Can Help You Navigate Child Custody in Texas

If either parent wants to relocate in Texas (or move out of state), they will have to receive approval from the other parent or the court. Having a skilled child custody attorney is the best way to protect both your rights and the rights of your child.

At Non Stop Justice, we seek exactly that. We want to make sure that you and your family are protected under the law, and we won’t stop until we win your case. Contact us to speak with one of our associates and get started with a case evaluation.

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The Woodlands, TX 77381

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