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How does parental relocation work in Texas?

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Life is ever-changing. As such, child custody orders aren’t always permanent. In Texas, modifications to possession orders are possible when one parent needs to make a substantial change, such as moving to another part of the state or out of state for a new job.

Child custody disputes are often the most hotly contested divorce issues. Parental relocation requests are challenging regardless of whether you are the parent who wants to move, or you oppose your co-parent's request for a modification. These requests can be difficult to resolve because of the strong preference that children maintain frequent and consistent contact with both parents. In most cases, a relocation request disrupts that relationship.

Courts consider the child's best interests

Texas family courts typically place geographic restrictions over a child's residency to ensure continuing contact with both parents after a divorce. When one parent needs to relocate, courts consider the child's age and other factors, including:

  • Can they still have a meaningful relationship with both parents?
  • Do they have special needs?
  • Are they likely to have emotional stability?
  • Will they continue to have quality education opportunities?
  • Will they be close to other family members and their friends?

If the child is at least 12 years old, the judge may also ask them how they feel about moving.

Reasons for parental relocation

It's crucial to remember that even if you and your co-parent agree to the relocation, the court must sign off if it's not in line with the current possession order. Courts may approve requests in the following circumstances:

  • A new job requiring relocation
  • Better housing opportunities
  • Access to education for a child with special needs
  • Being closer to family members

Requests may also be granted if one parent fails to exercise their parental responsibilities or changes are needed to remove the child and parent from an abusive relationship with the other parent. The bottom line is that courts generally decide these cases based on need rather than preference.

Build a strong case before requesting a modification

So much is at stake, so it's vital to understand the court's goal of doing what's best for your child. Be sure to discuss your plans with your lawyer before accepting a job offer or making plans that are not in line with the current possession order.

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