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Child Custody Agreements and Relocation

Posted on in Child Custody

Texas complex litigation attorney, Texas complex custody lawyerA custodial parent’s decision to relocate with his or her child can wreak havoc on an already precarious and complex child custody situation. Unless both parents reach an agreement, noncustodial parents have the option of objecting to the intended move and leaving it up to a family court to decide whether relocation is in the best interest of the child.

Geographical Restrictions

In Texas, courts have the power to determine geographic restrictions for a child’s primary residence as part of a custody agreement. If a custodial parent wishes to relocate, he or she must obtain a court order modifying the custody agreement. However, even if there is no geographical restriction in the custody agreement, the custodial parent must still give the noncustodial parent notice if he or she intends to move. If the noncustodial parent objects to the move, he or she must file an application for a temporary restraining order, which will prevent the other party from relocating with the child until a hearing on the issue has been held.

Relevant Factors

Although statutory law does not specify factors that courts must take into consideration when determining whether relocation is appropriate, various courts have provided some guidance on the issue. Courts may take into account the following factors:

  • The effect on visitation and communication with the non-custodial parent;
  • Whether the non-custodial parent has the resources to relocate;
  • The effect on extended family relationships;
  • A comparison of health, education, and leisure opportunities in both locations;
  • Whether any of the child’s special needs or talents can be accommodated in the new location; and
  • The stated reason for the move.

A court’s main concern, however, is whether the move will be in the child’s best interest. As part of this analysis, judges take into consideration the state’s public policy regarding all lawsuits affecting the parent-child relationship, which is to:

  • Ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have demonstrated the ability to act in the child’s best interest;
  • Provide a safe, stable, and non-violent environment for the child; and
  • Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the dissolution of the marriage.

Cost of Relocation

Courts are granted the discretion to allocate any increased expenses caused by the relocation fairly and equitably between both parties. In making this determination, courts take into consideration the cause of the increase in cost as well as the best interests of the child. However, there is a rebuttable presumption that the increased expenses should be paid by the relocating parent.

One parent’s decision to relocate can have a significant impact on the well-being of children and their relationships with their other parent, so if your ex-spouse is considering relocating, please contact an aggressive Georgetown family law attorney at The Law Offices of William D. Powers at 512-610-6199 and we will help you schedule a consultation.

Sources:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1067350795653610898&q=+Lenz+v.+Lenz,+79+S.W.3d+10+(Tex.+2002)&hl=en&as_sdt=2006

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.153.htm

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