If you are the divorced father of a minor child, and your ex-spouse has just informed you of her intention to move out of state with your child, you probably feel as though your worst nightmare just came true. Moving out of state is not something that lends itself to compromise or easy resolutions. On the contrary, if your ex-spouse does indeed relocate to another state, it could dramatically change your life and the dynamics of your relationship with your child. Your first question is “Can she do this?” Maybe the more important question is can a Fort Worth fathers’ rights lawyer keep your ex from moving out of state with your child?
Before getting into the impending move, it is first necessary to consider the current custodial arrangement. In Texas, the term “custody” is not used. Instead, a parent has “conservatorship” over a minor child. When a parent is a Managing Conservator it means that the parent has the legal right to make important decisions relating to the child, such as what medical treatment the child receives, what religion the child practices, and what school the child attends. The law favors granting parents Joint Managing Conservatorship unless there is a good reason to make one parent the Sole Managing Conservator. Your conservatorship rights are important when parental relocation is at issue. As a general rule, unless your ex has Sole Managing Conservatorship and/or the terms of your Parenting Plan specifically allow her to relocate out of state with the child, the move cannot occur without an agreement or a court order.
All decisions relating to a minor child in a divorce must be made using the “best interest of the child” standard. With that in mind, the law does not allow a parent to simply pick up and move a child a significant distance away from the other parent. Instead, the law requires that parent to notify the other parent at least 60 days prior to the intended move. Once you receive that notice, you have the right to formally object. At that point, your ex will need to return to court and ask the curt for permission to relocate out of state. If your ex fails to notify you of the intended move, and/or fails to petition the court for permission once you have made it clear that you object, she will face serious sanctions from the court.
Because your ex if the party who is asking to modify the existing court orders, she will bare the burden of convincing the court that doing so is in the best interest of the child. A court will consider a wide range of factors when deciding to approve or deny the requested relocation, including things such as:
The stated reasons for, and against, the move. Does your ex want to relocate because of a career opportunity or just because the weather is better in the target state? Are you opposing the move because it really will interfere with your relationship or just to be spiteful?
The distance. Is new location a two hour drive or a six hour plane ride? Typically, the party who relocates is ordered to absorb the bulk of the expenses involved in traveling or implementing the new schedule.
How the new possession and access schedule will work. The parent requesting the relocation must submit a proposed parenting time schedule that takes into account the move.
Your existing relationship with the child. If you spend a considerable amount of time with your child right now and have a strong bond, the court will be less inclined to allow the relocation than if you rarely see your child.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the parental relocation laws and procedures in the State of Texas, or if you wish to file an official objection to a proposed out of state move, contact an experienced Fort Worth fathers’ rights lawyer at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today. Appointments available in Fort Worth, Allen, Frisco, or Fort Worth.