Relocation Cases

Here is an interesting post about relocation cases in the state of Nevada. The author is a college professor in Nevada who blogs about his divorce experience. He describes the relocation statute and how, in his opinion, it is usually applied in a way that allows the custodial parent to move the child away from the non-custodial parent.

The Nevada statute gives very specific guidance to the court making such a decision but some of the factors seem rather weak to me. For example, the statute lists factors the court should consider in making its decision, including “whether housing and environmental living conditions will be improved,” and “whether the custodial parent’s employment and income will improve.”

The Texas Family Code has a statute that requires that all orders naming the parties as joint managing conservators (typically, divorce and paternity cases) to give the exclusive right to establish residence to one parent (this is generally what determines which parent is “primary”). That statute further requires that the order state whether the residency is restricted to a specific geographical area (and if so what area) or that there is no geographical restriction. The vast majority of Texas cases include a geographical restriction. A typical example would be a restriction to Harris County, Texas and the contiguous (surrounding) counties.

Unlike Nevada, the Texas Family Code does not provide any specific guidance as to how the courts are to determine relocation cases. So when a custodial parent with a residency restriction wants to move that parent would file a petition to modify, essentially asking the court to remove the restriction. Ultimately, the standard applied by the court in deciding the case would be whether the move was in the child’s best interest.

Although a lot of factors would be considered, in most cases the biggest factor is how involved the non-custodial parent was in the child’s life. If that parent was very involved with child, the custodial parent probably would have a difficult case to win. If the non-custodial parent was uninvolved, the custodial parent would have a much stronger case.

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Scott Morgan is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has practiced family law since 1994 and is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm which is dedicated exclusively to representing divorce and family law clients in the Houston and Austin areas.

53 Responses to Relocation Cases

  • KathrynZ says:

    I have been divorced from my ex for 7 years and we’ve shared joint custody (1 week with him 1 week with me) of our now 8 & 10 year olds since then. He remarried 5 years ago and has a 7 year old stepchild. I remarried last year and have a 6 month old. Here’s the thing: I’ve tried several times to move back home (out of state) to be near extended family and have not yet been successful. My new husband recently got a job out of state – within four hours of my extended family – and we’re headed to court again…what are my chances?

  • Idiana B says:

    Hey Scott!
    I am currently in Bexar Co. getting a divorce… it has not been finalized & I am currently engaged to a man that is serving in the Air force… I guess my question is should I go contested & explain the judge the situation of me getting married to someone that’s in the armed forces to not get a geographical restriction put on my divorce decree? I have a son that is Autistic and he will have full military benefits along with a great financially stable home with me & my future husband… what should I do… please help!!!

  • Naomi B. says:

    I have lived in Texas since Oct. 31, 2014. I, kids, and dad moved here from California. I have expressed to Dad that the move here has proven to be a mistake. He says that I can move to California all I want, “But not with the kids.” We are not, nor have ever been married. I would like to know what are my rights as far as leaving Texas with my kids and going back to California. Thank you.

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