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Texas Parental Relocation

As a Houston, Texas divorce lawyer I have had the opportunity to help parents with their parental relocation cases.

If you are seeking to relocate with your children or you are seeking to ensure that your children remain close by so you can fully participate in their lives, The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, aggressively represents clients in the courtroom to protect their rights to maintain a close relationship with their children and, if necessary, to move to another geographic location that will better serve the best interest of their children.

During the process of divorce or afterwards, it is common for one parent to want to relocate from the geographic area where he or she lived with his or her former spouse. The Texas Legislature and the courts of Texas generally find that it is in the best interest of the child to have continuing contact with both parents. Courts usually restrict the geographic area where the parent with primary custody of the children may reside so that there is a greater likelihood that both parents will be involved in the child’s day-to-day activities.

If the parent who would like to move has primary custody of the child or children, the geographic restriction will, in most cases, prevent the move. However, in special circumstances the courts will consider several factors to determine whether the geographic restriction should be lifted. The factors include the reasons for the requested move, the present level of involvement of the parents in the child’s activities, and the ability of the non-moving parent to have visitation with the child if the move is allowed.

Custodial Parent

When our Spring Texas family law attorneys work with the custodial parent, we present your case in the most favorable light possible and argue that relocating is in the best interests of the child/children. Typically, persuasive factors for allowing such a move include higher income earning opportunities, enhanced educational opportunities for the child, and family foundation structuring such as extensive family living in another region. It is also important to the court that the parent seeking the move not demonstrate actions that estrange the children from the non-moving parent. In some cases, the judge may approve the relocation and require that the moving parent cover the other parent's transportation expenses necessary to visit the children, or may reduce the amount of child support paid by the non-moving parent to provide them with greater resources to facilite frequent visitation with the children following relocation.

Non-custodial Parent

When our Houston family law attorneys represent the non-custodial parent, we work to illustrate for the court that relocating would be disadvantageous to the child and hamper your ability to spend time with your child.

The Best Interest of the Child

The court will consider some or all of the following factors to ensure the best interest of the child:

  1. Reasons for relocation
  2. Psychological needs of the child
  3. Convenience of the relocation to family members
  4. Quality of health care for the child/children medical conditions
  5. Educational opportunities
  6. Religious/faith matters
  7. Non-custodial parent's ability to travel to visit the child
  8. Preferences of the child

Texas law mandates that a custodial parent is obligated to make the non-custodial parent aware of any planned relocation. Typically, at least 60 days notice is required, to ensure the non-custodial parent is aware of intent to relocate. If the 60-day notice is impossible or impractical, the custodial parent must make the non-custodial parent aware immediately when they become aware of the relocation plans.

When notifying the other parent the custodial parent must include the relocation date and address. It is imperative to record attempts to notify the nonmoving parent of the planned relocation to ward off claims that the move is intended merely to alienate the children from nonmoving parent. Texas family court judges are very keen at distinguishing attempts to move in order to hinder a parent from being involved with the child, as opposed to a move for legitimate reasons that consider what is best for the children as well as both parents. A parent who attempts to move in order to prevent a relationship between the children and the nonmoving parent will, in all likelihood, not be successful in a relocation case.

New Parenting Plan

If the anticipated relocation is approved, the court will require development of a new parenting plan to concentrate on parenting time, travel and child support concerns. Our family lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in parental relocation cases and are available to assist clients in presenting a new parenting plan that will comply with the court’s requirements as well as the needs of the parents and children.

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