One of the most interesting byproducts of the pandemic, the government-led shutdowns of the economy, and stay-at-home orders have been the degree to which people have moved or are planning on moving as a result of any of these occurrences. As the pandemic subsides and we begin to transition into post-pandemic life, the reality is that their lives were forever altered for some people. It could be that I love one of U-verse fell very ill, and as a result, you moved to help take care of them when they came home from the hospital. Or, you may have had to change careers because you have lost your job during this shutdown.
If the pandemic impacted your life, you may now find yourself asking questions regarding where you should reside once the desk settles. To be sure, many people found themselves unsure of themselves in the period after the pandemic. This could be for health reasons, economic reasons, or 4 completely unrelated matters. This pandemic has upended life for many of us, and as a result, you may find yourself with more questions than answers right now.
This has to be even more true for those of you who have gone through difficult circumstances related to a family law case that was either beginning or ending during the time of the pandemic. The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are incredibly pathetic and mindful that our clients are going through difficult times personally due to their family law case and difficult times with the rest of us in battling through this pandemic. We aim to treat everyone with a degree of respect encouragement that is perhaps even above and beyond what we had become accustomed to showing.
Many of our clients have expressed doubt and concern about where they will be spending their lives as the pandemic wanes. One of the key points that I will raise to folks given the opportunity is that difficult times from an emotional perspective often require you to take a step back, and your life the dust settled. Ideally, that is how you would make decisions for yourself and your family in this pandemic. However, that is not exactly how a family law case works.
In a family law case, you are responsible for making decisions and negotiating for yourself and your family with the information you have available. A family court judge allows you to get a do-over on your case. While it is true that you can file a modification to your divorce more child custody case, you should not bank on your ability to do so. Rather, it is much more advisable to make decisions that consider as many of your circumstances as possible while considering what is in your children's best interest.
With that said, if you anticipate that relocation is in your future, then today's blog post is for you. Many of us are considering relocation as an option as the pandemic comes to an end. If you consider making a relocation to be closer to a family, that will be understandable as you come out of a divorce or child custody case. Wanted to be close to caretakers for your children, and a support system for you would not be out of the ordinary. What you can do in these types of scenarios is determine how a potential relocation would impact you and your children and the future of your child custody or divorce case.
When it comes to relocation, it's all about your children.
Suppose you have gone through a divorce and do not have children; the relocation probably won't be much of an issue in your case. The reason being that once your divorce is final, if you have no children and there are very few ties between you, your spouse, and the court. Even if you are ordered to pay things like special maintenance or contractual alimony to your spouse, does it matter where you are physically as long as the check clears, so to speak? In other words, if you don't have children, then the issue of relocation after a divorce can potentially be a relatively minor subject.
On the other hand, if you are going through a child custody case or divorce with children, then the issue of relocation to be closer to your family takes on added significance. Not only would you be making a decision that will potentially impact yourself down the line, but you are also making a decision that will almost surely impact your children. With that said, it is not necessarily the case that all relocation attempts after divorce are created equal. Then treat cover the circumstances of your specific divorce or child custody case that will impact your ability to relocate after your case is done.
In almost any divorce or child custody case that involves children, a geographic restriction will be considered for your case. A geographic restriction applies to where the primary residence of your children can be located both during the family law case and in the period following the end of your case. The point of a geographic restriction is to ascent Lee force the primary conservator and your children to live in a certain geographic location to prevent them from moving all around the world. Doing so allows the possessory conservator to have a chance to exercise their Visitation rights without constantly following the primary conservator if and when they decide to move.
The geographic restriction is intended to help the possessory Conservatory primarily. As it pertains to relocating, a geographic restriction is intended to prevent rapid or sudden movement. For example, a typical geographic restriction for someone living in Houston would be that your children could reside in Harris County or any of the contiguous or bordering counties to Harris. In other words, moving from Houston to The Woodlands after a divorce is acceptable under this scenario. However, moving from Houston to San Antonio would not be acceptable and would violate the geographic restriction.
There is no requirement that a geographic restriction is inserted in your court orders. Many families choose to include a restriction like this kind of concern for stability for the kids and the inability for both parents to exercise meaningful Visitation in the position of the children. All things being equal, if you anticipate that he will need to move after your divorce or will want to move, then you should consider not including a geographic restriction in your final orders. This is true whether or not you are the primary conservator or if you will be the possessory conservator.
Another consideration for you regarding a geographic restriction is the specific wording that she would include in your court order if any. Often, families will become very precise with the language they used as far as a geographic restriction is concerned. For example, some families I've worked with put a geographic restriction on a specific County. Other families will become even more precise and including specific school districts in their geographic restrictions. This is the case if your children are older and want to make sure that they can attend the same school throughout their academic life.
Whatever your specific circumstances are, be aware that the geographic restriction can be one of the most difficult aspects of modifying and eliminating a divorce or child custody order. The reason is that judges typically hesitate to lift restrictions that could topple the stability of a family or household. Even if you are not completely satisfied with your court order regarding the geographic restriction, keep in mind that the purpose of a court order is not to do what is in your best interests. Rather, the purpose of a court order is to do it is in your child's best interest.
Judges typically believe that stability and consistency in your child's life take precedence over just about any other factor. This is especially true if it was foreseeable that this would be an issue at the time of your divorce or child custody case. Recall that a modification in Texas needs to be based on a material and substantial change that was not yet in place at the time of your prior court order. Anything short of that would not justify a modification. It is not easy to go and modify a court order, and you should not assume that you would be able to.
What are the reasons why you want to modify or relocate to be near your family?
As we just finished talking about, it is difficult to sidestep a geographic restriction to relocate your family closer to your extended family. However, let's assume that there is no geographic restriction in place. Once we make this assumption, we can plan out secondary moves in terms of why you believe relocating is necessary or in everyone's best interests.
For starters, I would want you to ask yourself whether or not your desire to move is based on a material and substantial change in new circumstances or if it is a flight of fancy or momentary wishes. To be sure, the factors that we discussed at the beginning of today's blog post are relevant. The turmoil and tumult surrounding the pandemic are real. It would be understandable for you to circle the wagons and be closer to a family if possible. After a court order is made, people have sought to regroup close to family for many reasons.
However, if you try to put your family through a family law case in the form of a modification, you should know that there are certainly risks to your doing so. For one, the case could be unsuccessful, and you may end up spending money are nothing but a pipe dream. There is nothing wrong with spending money on a family matter case. However, keep in mind that spending money on an impossible outcome is not wise, no matter how noble your intentions are. It would help if you established whether or not you have a puncher's chance of being successful.
How can you do this? The best way to figure out whether or not you have a real chance to relocate to be closer to the family would be to speak to an experienced family law attorney. An experienced family law attorney would be able to guide you through the process and help you determine whether or not it is realistic for you to modify a court order if that is what is necessary for you to relocate.
If there is no geographic restriction in place, then the most important factor in the discussion is whether you are your child's primary or possessory conservator. If you are the primary conservator of your child, then there is nothing stopping you from relocating with your children to be closer to your family. It doesn't matter if that family lives 10 miles away from you or 100 miles away from you. But no geographic restriction is in place; nothing is stopping you under your court order from moving.
Another angle to look at this situation is from that of a possessory conservator. For instance, let's suppose that you are the possessory conservator of your children. In that case, you would be able to move closer to your family regardless of whether or not there is a geographic restriction in place. If there is no geographic restriction in place, you could move further to travel to see her children and take advantage of your Visitation opportunities. If there is a geographic restriction in place, this presents an entirely different subject and one that we need to go over before this blog post concludes.
Remember that a geographic restriction is put into place to protect the possessor's conservative. If you are a possessory conservator of your children and choose to move closer to family and relocate, then the benefit of your geographic restriction would go away. In that case, your Co-parent could also relocate to be closer to family, relocate for a new job, or any other purpose. You would need to be sure that relocating was worth it to do this.
Of course, you may have circumstances in place that justify a decision like this. For instance, if you have a family member who became ill or was otherwise needed close to home, you may choose to do this and find that you have to do it even if it harms your relationship with your children. This is a complicated scenario to place yourself in, and I would recommend giving it a lot of thought before committing to such a move.
Final thoughts on relocating to be closer to family
The best way to put it is that you need to be sure that moving to be closer to the family is worth the added expense, difficulty, and possibly decreased time with your children. Many scenarios could play out when it comes to this subject. Your job as a potential litigant is to determine whether or not your circumstances match up with a potential move.
The best-case scenario would be one where you do not have a geographic restriction in place and have primary custody of your kids. This means that you can move freely with your children and not run the risk of violating your court order. On the other hand, by doing so, you run the risk of harming your children by limiting the amount of time they can spend with their other parents. While you may not be overly concerned about this, it may be a factor that you may be overlooking.
To be sure, the best thing that you could do for your family is to work with an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys and staff have worked on behalf of countless clients in Texas divorce and child custody cases. We have the experience you need to support you and guide you in a difficult family law circumstance. All it takes for you to learn what our office is all about would be to head to our website or pick up the phone to call us.
We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed, experienced family law attorneys six days a week. These consultations are available by phone, in person, or via video. If you have any questions about the material discussed here on the blog, I recommend that you contact us today. Thank you for your interest in our law office and today's blog. We hope that you will join us again tomorrow.