In the 21st century, with the extensive mobility of the workforce, it’s not uncommon for a custodial parent to be offered a job in another state. There may be other reasons for such a move—to be closer to family, get remarried, or go to school, for example. Moving away from the non-custodial parent, though, can have a significant impact on minor children, not to mention the parent. Can a custodial parent relocate from Texas to another state? If so, what must that parent do to obtain approval of the court?
As a general rule, an initial custody order in Texas prohibits relocation by the primary parent outside of a specified area, typically the county of residence and any contiguous counties. That’s not to say a custodial parent may never move out of that area, but it does require a court order to make that kind of relocation.
Furthermore, just because your divorce decree doesn’t address the issue of relocation, that doesn’t mean you are free to move away at will and go wherever you choose. If you intend to move with a child, you must notify the other parent. The other parent can agree but also may file a motion with the court seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the move.
If the non-custodial spouse files such a motion, the court must have a relocation hearing. At that proceeding, you must provide the court with compelling reasons for the intended move. The court will look at those reasons but will give priority to the best interests of the children. If the move will be in their best interests, the court will likely grant the request but will require the parents to work out visitation that is in the best interests of the children.
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