Things You Should Know About Custody & Relocation
When a couple gets divorced, limitations are placed on the parents' ability to move within the state, out of state or across the country. The purpose of this is to ensure that the children have regular access to each parent, whether they live in San Antonio or elsewhere. According to the Texas Family Code, Chapter 153.001 there should be "frequent and continuing contact" between the parent and the child or children of a divorce.
Often the judges in the Texas Family Courts will designate a particular geographic area within which the primary custodial parent of the child or children must establish his or her residence. That restriction is sometimes limited to the county of the divorce or adjoining counties, school districts or other factors in the best interests of the children. When such a boundary restriction is established in the divorce decree, the custodial parent wishing to move outside of the designated area must return to court to have the restriction modified or removed altogether.
It is required that any custodial parent provide the non-custodial parent 60 days advance notice of any planned relocation. If there is legitimate reason for being unable to comply with the 60 day rule, such as an immediate job transfer, then notice must be given as soon as possible. Included in the notice, the custodial parent must provide the moving date and the physical address of the new residence. Going to court is not always necessary. It is possible for parents to agree to the relocation or have no geographic restrictions, whatsoever.
If it becomes necessary to go to court to modify any existing geographic restrictions, the judge will decide whether there has been "material and substantial changes in circumstances" that will justify modification of the original terms. Most courts will recognize a job transfer as being sufficient change to grant a modification.
Judges loathe any attempt by a custodial parent to relocate just to "get back at an ex" or simply to make seeing the children difficult. Any such move will most certainly be sternly dealt with by judges who are adept at recognizing fraudulent modification requests.
Finally, if a custodial parent does move to another state, it is important to establish a new parenting plan to accommodate the distance involved. More time must be allowed for travel, vacations and holidays. Even if the move is not contentious, it would be in your best interest to have the dates and times reduced to writing. As long as there is a plan in place, it can always be altered by agreement of the parents.
If you are facing a possible relocation because of your job or fighting an attempted relocation request, you need to seek the advice of an experienced custody and relocation attorney to determine what options are available to you.
Allan R. Manka, P.C., is a Bexar County attorney who has almost 40 years of experience in a wide variety of family law matters, including custody and relocation.
Contact us through our website or call our office toll free number (866) 621-7085 to schedule your free initial consultation.
Texas Family Code