Helping Texans with a variety of family law cases, including child custody and divorce.

How Texas courts assess parental relocation

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2023 | Child Custody, Family Law

Child custody issues are almost always more complicated than they seem. But even after an initial child custody order is issued, circumstances can change that may lead you or your child’s other parent to seek a modification.

While these requests to modify arise when mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence issues arise, they’re also made when a custodial parent seeks to relocate with the child.

Such a move can have a tremendous impact on your relationship with your child, which is why you need to know how the courts asses these requests.

How do family law courts handle parental relocations in Texas

Texas law is relatively quiet on parental relocation. However, a good place to start is to look at your divorce settlement or your custody order. There may be a provision in there that restricts the custodial parent form moving away without obtaining court approval. If the move is beyond that geographical restriction, or if your order is silent on relocation, then the custodial parent should seek a court order authorizing the move if you share joint custody.

Once that motion is filed, you’ll have the opportunity to object, at which point the court will schedule the matter for a hearing. When you file your objection and present your position in court, you’ll want to speak directly to the factors that the court will consider when making its decision on the motion. Generally speaking, the court will focus on the child’s best interest, but this will include scrutinizing each of the following:

  • The reason why the custodial parent is seeking to move.
  • The opportunities provided to the child by the relocation.
  • The impact the relocation will have on the child’s ability to maintain a relationship with the non-custodial parent.
  • Whether the new living environment will be safe and stable for the child.
  • The likelihood that the child will successfully adjust to the relocation.
  • The child’s health and educational needs and how the move will impact them.
  • The child’s age.
  • The relationship between the child and their parents.
  • How the move will accommodate the child’s talents and overall best interests.

As you can see, there’s a lot to argue over when you object to parental relocation. For example, motivation matters. So, if your child’s other parent is moving simply to be closer to a new boyfriend or girlfriend, then the court is going to view that as less of a justification to move than it would if the custodial parent’s justification is to take a much higher paying job that will allow them to provide your child with a better life. So, be ready with evidence to speak to the factors mentioned above.

How to build your case against parental relocation

Preparation is key when dealing with complicated child custody issues like relocation. One way you can generate and gather this evidence is by engaging in thorough discovery. Here, you gather key records from the other parent and require them to ask questions under oath. This can give you ammunition to work with in your court hearing, and it can also give direction as to where else you can look for evidence.

Are you ready to fight to protect your relationship with your child?

If so, then now is the time to work on your strategy. Remember, the court is going to make an all-encompassing analysis, so you’ll want to be as diligent and thorough as possible while still being mindful of the law. By doing so, you’ll hopefully be able to secure the outcome that’s best for our child and your relationship with them.