Following a divorce case in Texas, those party to it may eventually encounter the opportunity to relocate to a new area. Actually following up on those opportunities can be complex when one shares custody of their children with an ex-spouse.
One who wants to relocate must provide both their ex-spouse and the court having jurisdiction over their child custody case notice of their intentions. Whether that notice prompts a drastic (and unfavorable) modification of their custody arrangement depends largely on their individual actions.
Evaluating the motives behind a relocation
With the required notice of an impending relocation must also come a proposed amended custody agreement. The non-relocating parent can then object to the proposed amendments, which will then necessitate a court hearing to determine the course of a couple’s shared custody going forward.
Section 153.001 of the Texas Family Code states that the court recognizes the benefit of children having continued access to a parent whose past actions demonstrate a sincere desire to act in the kids’ best interest. Thus, any ruling modifying a custody agreement to allow one parent to move will typically reflect that recognition. This means that if there is an indication that the relocating parent is relocating simply to restrict the other’s access to the kids (absent any legitimate reason to do so, such as a history of abuse), the court may reject their proposed custody amendments.
Controlling custody modifications
Texas law allows for the equitable distribution of the expenses of maintaining parental contact following a relocation. This may include shifting a bulk of that responsibility to the relocating parent. A relocating parent accounting for this in their proposed custody amendments (such as agreeing to shoulder added costs or facilitating custody exchanges or visits in favor of the non-relocating parent) may increase the chances of seeing those recommendations approved by the court.