Understanding the Texas Child Custody Relocation Law
Custody Under Texas Law
Despite the possibility that parents may not be able to compromise on custody, there is a legal presumption under Texas law that both should act as joint managing conservators over their child(ren).
It is rare that a court will appoint one parent as sole conservator and the other as a possessory conservator. This may happen if there is evidence of:
- Past misconduct by a party,
- Threats of violence, or
- Other egregious behavior.
This means that Texas courts will typically name parties “joint managing conservators” over their minor child(ren). Termed “joint custody” in some states, the arrangement allows both parents the opportunity to be awarded the right to make important decisions about their child’s life.
Parents are encouraged to reach an agreement regarding conservatorship, possession, and access, and child support pertaining to their child. When this occurs, the court will enter that agreement into the record as an agreed parenting plan.
But, there are times when parties simply cannot agree regarding what is best for their child. In those instances, the judge will make a decision on custody issues.
Child Custody Determination
In making a child custody determination or considering whether to approve an agreed-upon parenting plan, the court will always be guided what is in the child’s best interests as defined by Texas law.
Some factors the court may consider in this determination include:
- How the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development will be affected;
- Whether each parent can make the child’s welfare their first priority;
- How well the parents can reach shared decisions to benefit the child;
- Whether each party is capable of encouraging a positive relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The extent to which both parents participated in child rearing before the proceedings;
- The child’s preference, when age appropriate; and
- Any other factor the court determines is relevant to the decision.
In addition, the geographical proximity of the parents’ residences is a factor that is relevant to the child’s best interests.
This consideration is the focus when one party seeks to relocate. A relocation lawyer with in-depth knowledge of Texas child custody and relocation laws can be a valuable asset when looking at this particular issue.
Joint Custody Laws in Texas
Joint managing conservatorship describes the custodial arrangement that gives both parents the opportunity to be awarded the right to make important decisions about their child's life, including where the child will live primarily.
Pursuant to an agreed-upon parenting plan, the parties can set terms and conditions stating that the child’s residence must remain within a designated geographical area.
They also create a schedule regarding visitation and how much time each parent enjoys with the child, otherwise known as a “possession order”.
Although the court may not impose restrictions on where a parent can live due to constitutional considerations, the court does have authority to restrict where a child may reside to ensure frequent and continuing contact between the child and both the child’s parents.
Like with other issues regarding minor children, a court will make the decision regarding where the child should live and within what geographic area if the parents cannot agree.
Determination of Who the Child Will Live With
Regardless of whether the arrangement is through a parenting plan agreement or a decision by the judge, the determination of who the child will live with primarily and within what area the child will reside is a legally binding court order.
This means that a parent who seeks relocation must first request court approval if a geographic restriction has been imposed on the child’s residence.
Otherwise, the party moving outside the designated geographic restriction with the child would be violating the terms and conditions of an existing court order.
In other words, a parent cannot just pick up and leave with the child: A court must review the circumstances, look at the child’s best interests, and then issue a new order on the child’s residence.
Our Texas child relocation attorneys are strong advocates in helping you navigate the legal proceedings, particularly in assisting with geographic issues. Contact an attorney at The Stout Law Firm, P.L.L.C. today to schedule a consultation. We can help you navigate the Texas child custody relocation law.
Relocation Considerations: Geographic Restrictions of Child Custody in Texas
When a parent seeks to relocate beyond the geographic restrictions that are part of a court order, through an agreed parenting plan or by a judge’s decision, some relevant factors include:
- How much the relocation disrupts the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent;
- Available support systems, including other family members in each location;
- Whether the non-moving parent is regularly exercising visitation rights;
- Educational opportunities for the child and the relocating parent; and
- Community relationships in both places.
With these considerations in mind, it is easy to see that geographic restrictions can be very fact-specific. A judge will look to the unique circumstances regarding the child. They also may give weight to each parents’ motivations in relocation arrangements.
Job-related reasons and a wish to be closer to the family may be strong evidence in support of the parent seeking relocation.
If you are the party fighting it on the grounds that the other parent’s motives are insincere, it is essential to present proof that the move would not serve the child’s best interests.
Prior to imposing a geographic restriction on the residence of a child, the court will weigh this policy against a host of other factors. Some of these include, but not limited to:
- The employability of a parent in both locations,
- Family ties to certain locations,
- The ability of the non-relocating parent to move,
- Educational opportunities for the parents and child in both locations,
- Ties the child has to each community, and
- Each parent’s involvement in the child’s life.
Therefore, it is important to retain a lawyer with extensive experience in Texas child custody child relocation laws. An attorney can represent you in court, helping you demonstrate compelling reasons that you want to move, or prevent the relocation.
Trust Our Texas Child Relocation Attorneys to Assist with Your Case & Texas Child Custody Relocation Law
Regardless of whether you need to move with your child or want to contest relocation efforts of the child’s other parent, you do have rights under Texas child custody relocation law.
The paramount consideration is the child’s best interests, and our lawyers at The Stout Law Firm P.L.L.C. have skills in developing the right legal strategy to support your position.
We are also compassionate in understanding how custody and relocation hit close to home. We want to do our part in ensuring you can maintain a healthy relationship with your child.
If you have questions or want more information on Texas child relocation laws, please contact our office at 713.980.4300. We can schedule a consultation to review your circumstances and explain your legal options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Short answer: Yes. In Texas, joint managing conservatorship gives both parents the right to make important decisions that can have an effect on the child's life.
A Texas child custody lawyer can help you by formulating the right strategy for you and your child. This strategy can help you relocate to the area you want with your child. Contact us today.
It is rare under Texas law that one parent becomes the sole conservator. The way this can happen is if one parent has a history of misconduct.