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Can the custodial parent move away from Texas with children?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2020 | Child Custody |

After a divorce in Texas, one or both parents may wish to relocate. When those plans take the children out of state, however, the moving parent may need legal permission. 

Learn about the provisions that govern child custody and relocation questions in Texas. 

Understanding joint managing conservatorship 

After a divorce or separation, parents in Texas usually receive joint managing conservatorship, sometimes referred to as joint legal custody. With this arrangement, the parents jointly have the right to make other important decisions about the child’s upbringing. The state presumes that unless one parent has a history of domestic violence, both parents will share the conservatorship. 

Determining residence 

Often, the answer to whether one parent can relocate lies in your parenting agreement. In this legal document, the parents can designate a geographic area where the child will live. For example, the agreement may state that the child will live in the current county or surrounding counties. 

The court names one parent as the primary parent, and he or she decides on the child’s primary residence within that area. The parenting agreement also includes a shared possession schedule, which details when and where the child will spend time with each parent. 

Requesting legal relocation 

When the primary parent wants to move outside the designated geographic area, he or she must petition the court for permission. The court clerk schedules a hearing and provides notice to the other parent, who has the chance to contest the move. 

For the court to agree to the move, the primary parent must prove that the move will serve the family’s best interests. The court limits moves that seem targeted to prevent the child from seeing the other parent. 

When parents do not have a legal custody agreement in place, nothing prevents either parent from moving out of state with the children. When this occurs, the other parent must act quickly since Texas only has jurisdiction over custody when the child has lived in the state within the past six months.

It is advisable to work with an experienced child custody attorney in Houston in any child relocation situation.