If you are considering a move for a better job opportunity then you could count yourself among the thousands if not millions of Americans who find themselves in the same position. The reality is that for many Americans since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been possible to imagine a different life because of newer and better job opportunities in different places. Whereas in other times we may have been limited to looking for employment only in our immediate geographic area, remote work and the Internet have allowed us to gain a foothold into work across time zones and the country. As a result, you may be looking for employment in a place other than Southeast Texas.
If that is true, then you have a lot on your mind most likely. For any parent who is looking for new work the idea of seeking out employment can be a stressful situation because you are never sure about exactly what is going to happen with the new job. But if you don't like the job? What if all your hard work and searching for a new job goes down the toilet and you never actually find the work as fulfilling as you would have hoped? For those of you who are looking for new jobs, these are legitimate concerns to have.
By the same token, if you have been seeking a promotion within your company then the ability to transition into a new role may bring with it the need to relocate your family to a new place. While relocation and the prospect of finding a new place to live can be exciting there is also a great amount of unknown involved in the process. If you have been comfortable in the role with your company that led to your promotion, then the fear of the unknown still exists even as the framework of your job may be fairly similar to your old one. Having to learn the ropes of a new job as well as manage the expectations that come with more responsibility and higher pay is not easy.
Simply put, relocation of your family is a major consideration that you will have to make In many cases to find better job opportunities. Whether the better job opportunity is within your same employer or in a completely different role balancing the expectations of higher pay, more responsibility and the stresses that come with managing the move from a family perspective is not easy. As a result, you should give some diligent thought to what the move will mean for your family both now and in the future.
A metaphor that I like to use with people in this type of situation is that it is better to make sure that the boat you are jumping to is close enough to the dock for you to make it on board without getting wet first. many people in your position will simply jump off the dock at the first sight of a boat that could take them to a new destination. However, this is not necessarily the path that you should take and is one that is full of uncertainty and potential dangers for your family. This is not to say that risk-taking shouldn't always be avoided. However, you can manage your risks more efficiently and effectively when you have a plan regarding relocation. After all, this is not a simple subject with only one or two variables in play. It is a complex situation that involves your family, your finances, and everything in between.
Relocation with minor children
Relocating can be difficult in and of itself even if you do not have a family. However, if you have small children then relocating takes on a greater degree of difficulty and requires some advanced planning and a great deal of thought. Uprooting your children from their support system, family, and friends in Houston to move to a new place could be in their best interest. You never know, however, if this is merely a grass is always greener on the other side of the fence type of situation. What may catch your attention about a new job opportunity may be related to emotional factors rather than objective factors related to the new job. As a result, I would think that you should think long and hard about the new job so that you can minimize any surprises that come along with the relocation effort.
One thing that you may want to guard against is the desire to move and then assume that promotion or new job will come along at the new destination. Wanderlust and itching for change can lead you to a move that May not be well thought out and could harm your family. I don't know the specifics of what you and your family are going through but to assume that every move is right for you and your family would be a mistake. There are probably a limited set of circumstances where moving rather than staying put is in the best interests of you and your family.
As with any major decision in the life of your child, it is wise to consult with your child's other parent. Since you are reading this blog post on the website of a family law attorney, I'm going to assume that you and your child's other parents are either not married or not in a committed relationship. In that type of scenario, you may be divorced from your Co-parent or maybe simply raising the child with a coherent but are not in a relationship with him or her. This is another important dynamic in the discussion that needs to be acknowledged. In this type of situation, you cannot simply move forward with relocation without first consulting with your Co-parent on their thoughts.
The presumption under Texas law is that parents act in the best interests of their children considering the decisions that they make on behalf of the child. This, rightfully, gives you as a parent a great deal of latitude to make decisions on behalf of your child. However, you may quickly find that you and your Co-parent have different ideas about what is in the best interest of your child. For this reason, parents in your position oftentimes will go to court to request that a family court issue orders regarding conservatorships, custody, possession, and child support for your children. This makes raising a child in a two-household family much simpler. It also increases the amount of accountability that you and your Co-parent have towards one another.
If you have already been to family court and received a court order from a judge whether it be from a divorce or child custody case, then you would need to refer to those court orders to learn what the expectations and limitations are regarding a relocation. Like it or not, a court order that you arrived at years ago can now determine whether you and your family can relocate. By the same token, if it is your Co-parent that is desiring to relocate then you may look at the situation from the perspective of the order being what saves you from having to move across the country to keep up with your Co-parent your children.
On the other hand, you may also be in a situation where you and your Co-parent have not yet been to court to establish a court order. In many situations, you and your Co-parent may get along very well you may not see a need for the expense and time commitment associated with establishing a formal court order period two of you may have created an informal agreement where you exchange possession of the children, support the children, and contribute financially to one another as households. In that case, this agreement has no legal standing and either of you can potentially back out of the agreement at a moment's notice.
If you are in the position of having an informal agreement with your Co-parent regarding custody in possession of your children, then making a cross-country or even across the state move with your kids should give you some degree of pause. On the one hand, nothing is saying that you cannot move without your children. However, by choosing to move with your children you risk losing child support, the assistance of your Co-parent in raising your children as well as the potential risk of your Co-parent going to a court in Houston and asking a judge to issue orders let's take the children must come back to Houston.
Let's spend some time discussing the issues that you may encounter as a parent of minor children depending on whether you have a court order or not when it comes to child custody.
Relocating with no court order
If you find yourself in a position where relocation is an irrelevant topic for you and your family, then you should consider whether a court order is in place that relates to child custody matters. Not having a court order for child custody matters is not a wise idea for any family. You run the risk of putting yourself and your children in a position where you could be denied custody of them, visitation, or even child support regularly. Even if you and your Co-parent have an agreement with one another on matters related to custody then you need to know that this agreement could be ignored or changed at a moment's notice by your Co-parent. This is a tricky situation to find yourself in even when it is the best of times.
If you are the parent who is considering a relocation for a better job opportunity, then it matters a great deal whether you are the Parent who takes care of your children daily or the parent who has visitation. This matters because as a parent your responsibility of caring for your children or what matters most in that child's life. As such, a decision to move your family carries with it a potential and significant change in the type of relationship that you and your children have period additionally, it will impact your ability to raise your child together with your Co-parent.
To that end, what you need to focus on is what the move means in terms of your handshake agreement with your Co-parent. Even if you have no agreement in place from a court then you and your Co-parent need to be able to work together to agree on how to raise your children. While your informal agreement may have gone a long way towards doing that the fact that you were trying to significantly change that understanding by moving across the country speaks to just how quickly things can change when it comes to an informal agreement. As a result, moving with your children across the country may not be something that violates court order, but it certainly could be something that complicates your relationship with your Co-parent and most importantly your child's relationship with that Co-parent.
On the other hand, if you are the parent who has visitation with your children then you should be aware that you are in a precarious spot when it comes to relocation and your relationship with the Co-parent. The most important point I would make to you is that the position you find yourself in currently in terms of concern over where your Co-parent may choose to move is one that you will continue to find yourself in unless you go to court and seek orders that allow for a geographic restriction or other means to keep your children close to you. The alternative would be that you would have to follow your Co-parent around the country to build a meaningful relationship with your children. The alternative to that would be seeing your children infrequently and losing an opportunity to grow your relationship.
No matter what position you find yourself in as a parent, it would be wise to consider Your options and two go to court for a child custody order before making a big decision about relocation. In all actuality, job opportunities will come and go, and new ones will arise. Believing that this is the only opportunity that you will have of this sort would be a major mistake. Do not jump the gun and jump from the dock before your boat is close by.
Relocating with a court order
finally, if you and your family do have a child custody order in place then you will need to pay close attention to what that court order states in terms of any geographic restriction on where your children can live. You should pull out a copy of your final decree of divorce or child custody orders to see if a geographic restriction was included in that document. A geographic restriction limits your children's primary residence to a certain geographic area. This is done to allow for both parents of a child to be able to take part in the raising of that child without having to Worry about the children being moved constantly.
what this should tell you is that you may not even be able to move with your children for a new job opportunity if a geographic restriction was placed on your court orders. On the other hand, if you are the parent who has visitation rights over your children then you need to know that if you do move beyond the geographic area where your children can live then your Co-parent can do the same. The geographic restriction was placed in the order to benefit you as the non-primary conservator. If you choose to move and not take advantage of the geographic restriction, then your Co-parent will not be bound by the restriction either. This means that your Co-parent could decide to move, as well.
Whatever your situation is, whether you have a court order in place for custody or not, relocation is a major decision that you should not take lightly. Rather, you should consider the language of your court order, the circumstances of your family, and the best interests of your children before committing to something. Consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan before overextending yourself. Looking for a better job opportunity is never a bad thing period however, making decisions without fully contemplating the consequences of your doing so can lead to bad results both now and in the future for your family.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations at our three Houston area locations, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.