Texas Child Custody Law Regarding Relocation With A Child

If you recently got divorced and share child custody of your children with your ex, or if you separated from a partner with whom you share minor children, you may not be able to simply move from your current home in Texas without asking the court for permission to do so. To be clear, if you want to relocate and you plan to take your child with you, Texas law does not simply permit you to move away with your child if you share custody with your ex.

Whether you have been offered a new job in a different city or state, or you simply want to move in order to get a fresh start after your divorce, it is critical to understand how Texas law handles child relocation and child custody. Our child custody lawyers want to provide you with more information and encourage you to seek advice from an attorney about the particular facts of your case.

Determine What Your Parenting Plan Says About Geographic Restrictions for Joint Managing Conservatorship

The first step in relocating with your child is determining what your parenting plan says about geographic restrictions. Under the Texas Family Code, parents who share joint custody of their children after a divorce or the end of a relationship are known as joint managing conservators. When parents are joint managing conservators and share custody of their children, they will most likely have a parenting plan that outlines certain requirements, responsibilities, and restrictions. The parenting plan will most likely designate one of the parents as a conservator with “the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child,” along with other issues such as each parent’s duty concerning daily care, support, and education for the child.

When a parenting plan designates one conservator as the parent with the “exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child,” that parenting plan likely also establishes, according to the Texas Family Code, the “geographic area within which the conservator shall maintain the child’s primary residence.” In some cases, however, a parenting plan will specify that “the conservator may designate the child’s primary residence without regard to geographic location.” The distinction between these two clauses or terms in the parenting plan will be extremely important if you want to relocate with your child.

Seek a Modification from the Court If Necessary

If your parenting plan says that you “may designate the child’s primary residence without regard to geographic location,” then you may be able to relocate with your child without asking the court for permission. A Dallas child custody lawyer can take a look at your case and help you to determine your responsibilities under Texas law.

If your parenting plan establishes the geographic area in which you must maintain the child’s primary residence, you will need to request a modification in order to relocate with your child. To seek a modification under Texas law, you must be able to show that a modification allowing for relocation would be in the best interests of the child and that the circumstances “have materially and substantially changed” since the parenting plan and original child custody order.

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Texas

If you have questions about modifying your child custody order for purposes of relocation, our Dallas child custody attorneys can help. Contact Orsinger, Nelson, Downing, and Anderson, LLP today.

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