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Basics Of Child Relocation In Texas | San Antonio Criminal Lawyer | Bexar County Family Attorney | Law Office of Bill Baskette | San Antonio Criminal Lawyer | Bexar County Family Attorney | Law Office of Bill Baskette
In today’s mobile society, child relocation cases are becoming more prominent. Some parents are pursuing career opportunities that may take them to a different state or city beyond a geographical restriction in a prior court order. Military parents may have to abide by relocation orders, while other parents move to be closer to family support systems. Some may want to move to avoid conflict with the other party.
In relocation cases, family court judges must balance a number of competing interests, including the financial rewards for the relocating parent, the bond the non-relocating parent has with the child, and most importantly, the child’s best interests. This article will provide a basic primer on the standard relocating parents must meet when seeking to change a child’s primary residence.
When a custodial parent seeks to move with a child, it certainly depends on where the new residence will be. Many custody decrees contain a geographic restriction that limits relocation to the county of jurisdiction and the adjoining counties or to the counties where the parties reside. As such, a move within the geographic restriction (from Bexar County to Kendall County, for example) usually will not require court intervention. However, a move to a county not included in the restriction, or to another state, will require the court’s approval.
If there is such a restriction, the moving party must file a motion with the court for permission to move with the child to a new state or city if the other party does not consent in writing. Such a motion is often met with a motion to change custody to the non-moving party on the grounds that they would be deprived of parenting time. This can be countered by an offer to pay for the non-moving party’s visitation expenses or meeting half way to allow the visitations to continue.
Even if there is no restriction, before moving, the relocating parent must send the other parent written notification of their plans, including where they intend to move, as well as a notice that the non-relocating parent may petition the court to oppose such a move. The notice should be sent to the other parent at least 60 days before the proposed move to allow the other parent enough time to file an objection and to be heard by the court.
Sometimes parents can agree on changing their parenting time schedule to accommodate the move. However, if a parent opposes relocation, the court will consider a motion to modify the current custody order. In deciding these motions, the court will consider a number of factors related to what is in the best interests of the child, including:
Each parent’s reasons for seeking (or opposing) the move
Whether the move would prevent the non-relocating parent from having reasonable access to the child
The relative distance of the move
The child’s current community and school, and the effect the move will have on the child.
In relocation cases, many parents tend to mean well, if they have established strong relationships with their children. After all, courts will not sanction a move if it is meant to “punish” the other parent for unrelated issues (such as establishing other romantic relationships or child support arrears). In other cases, the non-moving parent may not visit the child regularly, which makes a move less prohibitive.
Nevertheless, the court has a difficult task in balancing the needs of the child (to have both parents in their lives) with a relocating parent’s right to pursue genuine opportunities, as well as their obligation to obey military orders.
Relocation cases are very fact specific, and it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney for advice on a specific course of action before attempting a move. It is possible to mediate a desire to move without spending time and money in court. Your attorney can help pave the way for a legitimate move that is acceptable to all parties.