When you get divorced in Texas, it opens up a different layer of complexity when it comes to doing things that most people can freely do. Moving out of state is complex, but when you include a child and child custody agreements, it becomes even more confusing. Whether you are moving by yourself or you want to take the child with you, problems can arise.
Moving the Child
In the Dallas Fort Worth area, and really all of Texas, your ability to relocate a child is not dependent upon some overarching law, but rather on the individual child custody agreement that was established by the courts during the divorce. If at all possible, ironing out those details before they happen is the key to success. However, things can be changed so the first step is understanding what you already have.
There are a few custodial arrangements in Texas, with joint custody the predominant one – you may see it referred to as joint managing conservatorship. In this case, the courts found it to be in the best interests of the child(ren) to be placed with both parents on an agreed upon schedule. Sometimes, divorced parents are able to come to an agreement on their own. They can then file a parenting plan which the court may amend, approve, or reject. Sometimes, those plans will limit where the child can live, regulating the child to a certain county or geographic area. These ideas aren’t determined for the good of the parent, in all cases. Most often, the child’s best interests are what matters, so the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child must always come first, no matter what.
What if One Parent Relocates?
In a situation where both parents were granted joint legal custody but one must move, the agreement may change. The family lawyer will file a motion or order to seek permission to move out of the boundaries. This will lead to a hearing in which the family law attorney must show reason for the relocation. Family law can be tricky here, and it takes a skilled attorney to navigate the sometimes murky waters.
It is important to note that before filing an order to show clause (OSC), the family law attorney MUST have sufficient grounds for a request that is not motivated by parent alienation.
Once again, the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child must always come first. If your child is over a certain age (12 years old), he or she may be able to make an appeal or tell the court his or her feelings about the situation.
Modifications to Child Custody Agreements
If your child’s residence has been restricted to a certain area in Texas, you cannot just pick up and move without first getting approval. All of this must happen BEFORE the move – it should happen before one parent accepts a job, even. If you believe that you will have to move outside of the boundaries set forth in your child custody agreement, you should start as soon as you possibly can by contacting a lawyer.
There may need to be modifications made to the child custody agreement, and those changes will have to work for the other parent as well. A parent who opposes a move or a change to the agreement can file a motion with the court to challenge everything, which can sometimes result in a restraining order until the hearing.
No matter what, family law in Texas can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially in child custody cases. If you are currently engaged in a dispute about child relocation, you must contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. Seeking expert counsel can mean the difference in seeing your child when you’d like and working your dream job or having to choose between the two.