When you and your co-parent are separated or divorced, relocation can become quite an issue for your parenting plan. Whether one of you has sole custody or you share custody of your child, moving to a different region, state, or country can be a huge issue. If the moving parent wishes to take the child with them, it can make the issue even more complex.
If you want to relocate, or if your ex wants to move away, it is important that you understand how relocation could impact your child custody or visitation agreement.
Relocation in Texas
In Texas, if either parent wishes to relocate, they will likely need court approval. Ideally, parents will be able to work out a new arrangement amongst themselves, but when one parent wishes to move a significant distance it can create some serious arguments. The parents might disagree about who the child should live with on a regular basis, how parenting time should be split, whether or not child support should be readjusted, and so on. In most cases, having these decisions finalized with an official court order is best. Without a legally binding document, one parent might renege on the agreement or accuse the other parent of going against their verbal agreement.
How The Courts View Relocation
If you do need to go to court to resolve your relocation dispute, you need to understand how the judge will evaluate your situation. Most people relocate because of a job opportunity, family obligations, health reasons, educational opportunities, or because they need to find a more affordable location. In some cases, parents might also move away to escape an abusive situation. In any of these cases, the court will review your situation and determine what is in the best interest of the child. If parents share joint custody of their child, it might be more difficult to determine who the child should live with, especially if the parents cannot agree. However, if one parent already has primary custody, the child will likely remain with that parent, whether they are moving or staying put. However, each case is different.
The court will consider the following factors before making any child custody decisions:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The income of either parent
- The safety and stability of each parent’s home
- The child’s wishes, if he or she is old enough to decide
- The child’s connection to either community
- The potential cultural or educational benefits of either location
- The reason for the move
Potential Solutions for Visitation or Child Custody
Based on these factors, the court will decide who the child should love with, how time with each parent should be divided, and when and how visitation should be granted if the parents do not share custody. If the parents share custody, the child might live with one parent for the school year and spend summer and holidays with the other parent. Or, the parents might find a way to split the child’s time another way. If one parent has primary custody and the other is granted visitation rights, those visits might be adjusted to accommodate the distance between parents. For example, instead of weekly or monthly visits, the visitation might be granted for one month out of the year, all at once, or maybe twice a year.
If you are relocating, or your co-parent is moving away, it is important that you work with an experienced family lawyer you can trust. Our skilled Johnson County child custody lawyer can review your case and help uphold your interests in a Texas court.
Contact The Law Office of Robert E. Luttrell III to get started.