Custody in Texas: When One Parent Wishes to Relocate

Child Custody in Relocation - Family Law Attorney

What should be done with child custody when one parent relocates?

How does a Texas Court make custody orders? Provided there is no history of domestic violence or drug abuse, the courts will award "joint managing conservatorship" (referred to as "joint legal custody" in some states) in custody cases.

Parties and their child custody attorneys can craft their own agreements and submit them to the court to be made court orders. In the absence of an agreement, the court will be required to render the decision on its own. Typically this issue comes before the court when one family law attorney files a motion or order to show cause. Family attorneys will advise that a court will consider not just one but many factors in determining who should have custody of a child or children. For example, the child's physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development, the parents' abilities to make the child's welfare their first priority and reach shared decisions that are in the child's best interests, whether each parent can encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, whether both parents participated before the divorce or custody action, the geographical proximity of the parents' residences, the child's preference (if the child is at least 12 years old), and any other factor the court deems relevant to the decision.

But what about the situation where one party wishes to relocate with the minor child? Your family law attorney will tell you that most of the time, court orders prohibit the parent with primary custody from relocating outside of a designated area such as contiguous states or counties or restricting a move to a particular mile radius. So, if a parent wishes to relocate, their family lawyer will have to file a motion or order to show cause seeking the court's permission to move outside of those pre-imposed boundaries.

What will the Judge be looking for? At the court hearing, a family law attorney must show compelling reasons for the proposed relocation. Family law attorneys might wish to argue things such as job relocation or relocation to be closer to supportive family who can assist with the children. The best family law attorneys will advise that if the court suspects that a motion for a proposed move is made for the sole purpose of interfering with the custody of the non-custodial parent, these motions will not be granted nor should they be brought by ethical family law attorneys.

Therefore, before filing an OSC (Order to Show Cause) to relocate, it is imperative that a party and their family law attorney have sufficient grounds for such a request not motivated by parental alienation.