When the parents of a minor child end their marriage, the terms of the ensuing divorce will determine who is the child’s managing conservator and when each parent will exercise possession and access time with the child. For a parent who is not the managing conservator, one of the biggest fears is often that the other parent will decide to move the child out of state. Fort Worth custody attorney Jon Boyd explains what you can do if your former spouse plans to move, or has already moved, out of the state.
Although it is always best to consult with an experienced custody attorney about a proposed or completed relocation, a basic understanding of the law in the State of Texas is a good place to start. In Texas, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, found in the Family Code Section 152.001 et seq. governs issues related to the relocation of a child.
For most recent divorces, the issue of relocation will have been addressed at the time of the divorce. Consequently, the first thing you should do is to review (or obtain a copy and then review) your existing divorce decree. Specifically, read through the Parenting Plan that should be part of the court’s final orders. The Parenting Plan will likely have a geographic restriction included in it. Unless you and your former spouse negotiated something different, your plan probably includes a provision that prevents relocation of the child out of the State of Texas or more than 100 miles from where he/she lived at the time of the divorce.
If a proposed move violates an existing geographic restriction, or if the existing court order is silent on the issue of relocation, the parent who wishes to relocate with the child is required by law to provide notice to the non-custodial parent of the intent to move.
Under the law, your former spouse must provide you with notice of the intent to relocate, in writing as soon as he/she is aware of the impending move but no later than 60 days prior to the intended move date. That notice must also advise you of your right to file a formal objection with the appropriate court.
If you have reason to believe that your former spouse intends to move your child out of the state, but you were not formally notified of that intent, you may need to file for a temporary restraining order. As the name implies, this is a request to the court to restrain your former spouse from leaving the state with your child until such time as a formal court hearing can be held.
If you were formally notified of the intent to relocate, you have the option to agree to the move or object to the move. If you consent, you must negotiate the terms of a revised Parenting Plan with your former spouse. If you object to the move, your former spouse is legally required to petition the court for permission to relocate with the child. If he/she fails to provide the required notice and/or fails to obtain the necessary permission from the court, sanctions could be ordered against your former spouse. If your former spouse does file the required petition, you will need to file a written objection. The court will then set the matter for a hearing at which time it will consider numerous factors when deciding if the requested move is in the best interest of the child, including, but not limited to:
Reason given for the move (work related, to be near family support etc.)
Any ulterior motives for the move or the objection
Distance of the move
Existing parent-child relationships
The cost of travel if the move is allowed.
If your former spouse is planning to move out of state with your child, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Fort Worth custody attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact an experienced Fort Worth custody attorney at Boyd Family Law to schedule your appointment today.