Joint Custody And Moving out of State in Texas
What happens if parents have joint custody and one of them wants to move out of state? This can easily turn into a tricky situation. Let’s start by looking at what normally happens.
Joint custody is the most common custody arrangement because judges believe that it is in the children’s best interest to have equal access to both of their parents and be raised by them in cooperation with each other. In Texas, it is also referred to as joint managing conservatorship.
While the parents raise their children jointly, there will still be a primary or custodial parent and a non-primary or non-custodial parent. The children will live with the primary parent and spend significant visitation time with their non-primary parent, as determined in their parenting plan.
While the custodial parent can determine where they will live with their children, there are restrictions in place. Typically, they must reside in or near the county where the court case has been filed in order to facilitate any parenting time with the non-custodial parent.
If they were to move out of the immediate area, it would make it more difficult for the other parent to spend time with their children. If they do want to move, they must file for a modification of the original parenting plan. This is especially true if they want to move out of state.
What Do You Do If You Have to Move?
If you, as the custodial parent, want or need to move out of state, there are a few steps you have to take. First, you need to have a good reason for moving and potentially uprooting your children from their familiar environment. A move like that also will make visitation with the other parent more challenging.
At the top of the list of reasons for such a move usually is a new and better-paid job. Perhaps the parent has lost their job or finds it difficult to find a position in their area of expertise.
Other reasons include the availability of less expensive and better housing, better educational opportunities, a new spouse, or the presence of extended family that could help with bringing up the children and babysitting. The more your children can be shown to benefit from your move, the stronger your argument in favor of the move will be.
Next, the custodial parent needs to discuss those plans with the other parent in order to come to an agreement about the move. This discussion should include alternative ways for the non-custodial parent to remain part of their child’s life. Examples could be spending school holidays and summers together.
Clearly, there are also extra costs involved, from airfare and other transportation expenses to additional outlays for housing. All these have to be sorted out, and the co-parents have to come to an agreement. It is likely that changes to the child support payment amounts will have to be made. The co-parents should also be sure to work closely with a Texas child custody attorney.
The co-parents should also present evidence to the court that includes a written agreement showing that the parents consent to the move, how the move is in the child’s best interests, and how the non-custodial parent will be able to be part of the child’s life.
If the Other Parent Is Opposed to the Move
If the other parent does not consent to the move, the custodial parent has to petition the court and ask that the original court order be modified so that they will be allowed to move.
The non-custodial parent can file a restraining order in an effort to prevent the move. If the custodial parent proceeds with the move in spite of the restraining order, they can be charged with interference with child custody, which is a state jail felony, and receive jail time.
It is clear that each of the parties will benefit from separately seeking out and seeing a Texas family law attorney. The legal situation can get confusing, so getting legal advice will be invaluable for each of the parties as they make their case in court. The court will ultimately come to a decision while keeping the well-being of the children in their consideration.
When the Non-Custodial Parent Wants to Move
When you are the non-custodial parent and want to move, locally or to another state, you can do so very easily. The reason for the lack of complications is that the non-custodial parent doesn’t usually attempt to take the child away from the custodial parent. And no, when you move out of the restricted area, your children definitely cannot move with you. Moreover, the visitation schedule will have to be updated.
Also, a well-written order should stipulate that once the non-custodial parent moves away from the restricted area, the custodial parent can do the same–within reason. If the non-custodial parent moves just 35 miles away, the custodial parent cannot then move 1,000 miles away.
However, if there is no such stipulation in your order, you’ll need an agreement or a revised court order to be able to move. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to schedule that. Once again, you should get the help of your family law attorney to get it sorted out.
Overall, it’s still more typical for the non-custodial parent to want to keep any geographic restrictions in place so that they can maintain a continuing relationship with their children.
So if you have joint custody in Texas and want to move out of state, regardless of whether you are the custodial or the non-custodial parent, take time to talk to an experienced Texas child custody attorney. You can email or call us for a free case evaluation, and we’ll be glad to answer your questions.