Although the process of divorce is intended to resolve all existing issues between the parties, including those involving the minor children of the marriage, it is common for new issues to crop up long after the divorce is final. For example, what happens if you have custody of your children and you want to move out of the state? Dallas custody lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains the Texas relocation rules and the process that must be followed if you wish to relocate with your minor children.
Texas Custody Basics Explained
In the State of Texas, the term “conservatorship” is used in lieu of the term “custody” to refer to the right of a parent to make important decisions regarding the child. A parent may be granted “Sole Managing Conservatorship” or a child or “Joint Managing Conservatorship.” Sole Managing Conservatorship grants you the legal right to make decisions regarding your child. Joint Conservatorship means that both parents have the legal right to have input regarding important decisions relating to the children. Because the law encourages co-parenting post-divorce, Joint Managing Conservatorship is the norm.
Relocating with Your Children
In the 21st century, living in the same house for an entire lifetime, even for a significant number of years, is increasingly less common. If you decide you wish to move, moving a short distance from where you currently live is not something the court needs to be consulted about; however, if you plan to move farther away you cannot do so without following the proper legal steps. In fact, most divorce decrees include a geographical restriction provision that requires you to follow court guidelines before you can legally remove the children.
Relocation Requirements in Texas
Unless your divorce decree specifically gives you the right to move without the other parent’s consent you will need to notify the other parent about your intent to relocate. Texas law requires you to provide notification, in writing, as soon as you are aware of the impending move, but no later than 60 days prior to your intended move date. Your written notice must let the other parent know that he/she can consent to the move, in writing, or file a formal objection to the move with the court. If the other parent does consent to the move, you must revise the existing Parenting Plan to reflect the move and any relevant travel arrangement in lieu of your new location. Keep in mind that because you are the parent relocating with the children you may be expected to pay for some, or all, of the costs associated with parenting time going forward.
If the other parent objects to your move, you must petition the court for permission. The court will schedule a hearing to decide if you will be allowed to relocate with the children. All decisions relating to children must be made using the “best interests of the children” standard; however, some factors the court will consider when ruling on a request to relocate include:
- Reason given for the move (work related, to be near family support etc.)
- Any ulterior motives for the move or the objection.
- Distance of the move.
- Existing parent-child relationships.
- Cost of travel if the move is allowed.
It is crucial to understand that failing to follow the proper procedures for obtaining consent prior to relocating with your children could result in sanctions, a denial of consent to relocate, or even criminal charges being brought against you. For this reason alone it is always best to consult with an experienced custody lawyer if a potential move is in your future.
Contact a Dallas Custody Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about relocating with your children, contact experienced Dallas custody lawyer Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.