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Can My Ex Move with My Child to Another State?

Boyd Family Law Dec. 28, 2021

Going through a divorce when minor children are involved is difficult on everyone. Once through the process, however, you hope things will calm down and return to some sense of the new normal. What happens though if your ex-wife announces she plans to move your child out of state? Can she do that? Can you stop her? Fort Worth family lawyer Jon Boyd explains the Texas laws relating to relocation with a minor child after divorce.

Your Ex-Spouse Wants to Relocate

The world is becoming an increasing mobile workplace with decreasing borders. As such, relocating for work has become commonplace. Your ex-spouse may want to move for a variety of other reasons, such as to be near family or because of a new relationship. Regardless of the reason, if your ex-spouse tells you she plans to move more than a short distance away you will undoubtedly worry that it means it will be more difficult for you to spend time with your children. Can you stop her from moving? The simple answer is “maybe.”

Know Your Custody (Conservatorship) Status

One of the first things to consider when a parent wants to relocate after divorce is the custody status of each parent. In the State of Texas, the term “conservatorship” is used in place of “custody” to refer to the right of a parent to make important decisions regarding the child. A parent may be granted “Sole Managing Conservatorship” or a child or “Joint Managing Conservatorship.” Joint conservatorship is favored; however, the parents and/or court may grant sole managing conservatorship if warranted. If you are the Sole Managing Conservator, you alone make decisions regarding your child. Because it is much more common for parents to be Joint Conservators, it is more likely that both parents have the legal right to input regarding important decisions relating to the children.

Texas Child Relocation Laws

Your original divorce decree will likely have a geographic exclusion provision in it that prevents either parent from moving more than a designated distance away from where they lived at the time of the divorce. This prohibition may have been agreed on by both parties or imposed by the court. It often requires the parents to remain in a specific county and/or within a contiguous county. If your ex-spouse wants to move farther away, she will need to modify the terms of the divorce which requires court approval. Moreover, in the State of Texas the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) protects the rights of non-custodial parents in case the other parent intends to take the child and move out of the state (or more than 100 miles away from the current location). Texas law requires a parent wishing to relocate to notify the other parent at least 60 days prior to the intended move. That allows the other parent time to officially object to the move with the court.

If you file an objection to the move the court will set the matter for a hearing. Like all matters relating to a minor child the court must decide to grant or deny relocation based on the “best interests of the child.” Some factors the court will likely consider when making that decision include:

  • The child’s age

  • If there are ulterior motives for the move, such as to alienate the child from the other parent

  • Child’s relationship with both parents

  • The reason behind the parent’s proposed relocation

  • Possible educational advantages or disadvantages to the move

  • The effects on the child’s educational and emotional development

  • The distance and the traveling costs

  • Ties with school friends, teachers, relatives, and other members of the current local community

Contact a Fort Worth Family Lawyer

If your ex-spouse has indicated that she intends to move your child(ren) out of state (or a significant distance away within the state), contact an experienced Fort Worth family lawyer at Boyd Family Law to discuss your legal rights and options and to schedule your appointment today.