If you have gotten divorced and want to relocate out of state, relocating will be more complicated with children. If you do not have children and your divorce has been finalized, there should not be any obstacles if you want to move out of state.
As long as you pay spousal support when required and comply with the terms of the divorce agreement, you can begin your life in another state. However, if you have children with your ex-spouse, you must meet specific obligations under Texas law to move.
When one parent would like to relocate with the child, the primary parent must have a family court order to relocate away from the child’s current county of residence or nearby surrounding county. First, the custodial parent must notify the other parent of the proposed move away from Texas.
Relocating When Both Parents Agree
When both parents support the relocation, the parent wishing to move can petition the court for an order. Even when the non-moving parent agrees to the relocation, the parents will still need to address several issues with the court. Specifically, the modified child custody order should address travel schedules, child support, and adjusted visitation.
The process is much easier when parents agree on the new visitation schedule. Importantly, if you have agreed to relocate, you should still consult with a family law attorney. This is the case even if you and your partner agree on all the important issues. Your attorney can help you get the agreement in writing and ensure it is fair, legally enforceable, and meets your parenting needs.
What if One Parent is Against the Relocation?
Sometimes, for multiple reasons, two divorced parents are not able to agree on a potential relocation. The process of relocating after divorce becomes much more complicated when a co-parent opposes relocation. The parent who opposes relocation can request a relocation with the appropriate family court. The parent may even file a temporary restraining order to stop the custodial parent from attempting to move before the hearing occurs.
Relocation Hearings in Texas Family Courts
During the relocation hearing, both parents will have the opportunity to present their cases. Texas family court judges take relocation cases seriously because moving can significantly interfere with the child’s well-being. Ultimately, the judge will consider whether the relocation serves a child’s best interest and does not cause undue harm to the family. Judges balanced the fundamental right of Americans to travel freely between states and seek new job opportunities. Parents also have a basic right to their children’s care, custody, and control.
However, Texas Courts are also responsible for ensuring children are protected and that decisions are in their best interest. First and foremost, their duty is to make sure children are protected. The move can also jeopardize the non-custodial parent’s rights because it will become harder for him or her to have visitation with the child who moves.
If the court believes that the purpose of the move is to interfere with the non-custodial parent’s relationship with his or her child, the court will probably deny the relocation. However, if the move has mitigating factors, the court may approve it. The family court will consider many other factors to determine whether the relocation is in the child’s best interest. Family court judges presume a child should spend time with both parents as long as it is safe. Some of the factors courts consider during relocation hearings include the following:
- A new job opportunity with a higher salary will allow the employee to support the child better financially
- The move will result in the child being closer to extended family members who can help support and care for the child
- The move will result in better educational opportunities for the child
- The move will allow the child to receive better medical services if the child has a disability or a medical condition
- Whether the proposed living arrangement will be stable and safe for the child
- The health and recreational opportunities a relocation could provide for a child
- The child’s age
- The extent to which relocation will disrupt meaningful relationships with the nonprimary parent and other extended family members and close friends
- Their child’s ability to address a new location and school system
- The child’s existing relationship with each parent
- The relocating parent’s ability to care for his or her child in the new environment
- Whether parental cooperation is likely to continue or be disrupted by the relocation
Will My Older Child Have a Say in the Relocation?
In some cases, older children may have an opportunity to provide the court with their own opinion about relocating. The child may be a teenager with a well-connected friend group and is actively involved in high school. The child may not want to relocate out of state and lose all the important connections and stable foundations they have developed. There is no hard and fast rule for the age at which judges consider the child’s opinion. Discussing relocation with a child is done on a case-by-case basis at the court’s discretion.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Whether you are a parent who would like to relocate and take advantage of an excellent opportunity for you and your child, or you have concerns about your co-parent relocating, you will benefit from speaking to an experienced family law attorney. Attorney Vonda Covington of Covington Law Firm, PLLC has extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of issues related to child custody. She understands that moving is often an important process of building one’s career.
She also understands the concerns parents may be facing if their child relocates. She is prepared to help you address your goals, understand your legal options, and pursue the best option for your child and you. No matter how complicated, she is here to help. Do not hesitate to contact Covington Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a complimentary case evaluation and learn more about how she can help you.