Geographical restrictions – how to get them and how to lift them

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If you’ve been through a divorce with kids or child custody case, then you should be aware of what a geographical restriction is, but for those who don’t know – it is a court imposed requirement that you and your child remain in the same general vicinity as the other parent of your child. Many times, this means that you and your child must remain within the county that you currently reside in and contiguous counties (or counties that “touch” your current county of residence). But sometimes, it can be much more onerous, and you may have a restriction that you and your child remain in the same school district or city. This can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life, and you should seriously consider your options when it comes to negotiating or presenting this issue to a court.

First of all, Texas has public policy that requires, continuing and frequent contact with both parents. As a result, this pretty much sets the stage for a geographical restriction of some sort. So, if you want the freedom to move around with your child, consider the following arguments that can be used to avoid a restriction all together. Does your employment have offices in other cities and, if you moved, would it result in an increase in salary for you and an overall improvement in your quality of life? Are there other reasons that you have that would benefit you and the child if you moved? Is there extended family that the child would benefit from? There are number of ways to get creative in this regard. Visit with your family law lawyer and talk about your options.

On the flip side, you should also recognize the benefits that come along with having both parents in the same vicinity. From the court’s standpoint, this means that both parents will have access to the child, the child’s friends and teachers. It also ensures that the child will have the opportunity to have both parents at school events and extra-curricular activities which is win for the child or children. If you are seeking a geographical restriction, the court will take a number of things into consideration. Have you been exercising your periods of possession without fail? How much have you participated in the child’s education and extracurricular activities? Have you been participatory in doctors’ appointments or tutoring? How are you doing at co-parenting? Again, this is a very fact-specific inquiry to the court. Get creative.

If you are going through a divorce or custody case or are contemplating one, rest assured that this will be an issue in your case. So, prepare for it – ask yourself and your lawyer the hard questions. In the end, you have to keep in mind that the primary inquiry for the court will be – what is in the child’s best interest and many times, this also includes an inquiry into what is best for the both of you.

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