I have custody and I need to move for work, what do I need to do?


While getting a new job or a promotion at work can be rewarding, it is big decision that affects many things. It can come with a requirement of having to relocate to another state or even to another country. In most instances, a court order will state whether a parent has the right to relocate a child’s primary residence. If your court order does not state that you are restricted to a certain area, in legal terms this is referred to as a “geographical restriction”, then you can relocate with the child to wherever you desire. Before you make plans for the move, make sure that have you read and understand the court order in its entirety to ensure you are not restricted in any way.

In addition to making sure you can move, you will also want to comply with any provisions that require you to notify the other parent. Most court orders from Texas will have some sort of notice requirement. If you have a notice requirement and no geographical restriction, don’t be surprised if you get served with a modification suit after giving the other parent notice of your intent to move. The other parent can file a modification suit requesting that the Court now order that you cannot move. If this is the case, remember that as long as there is not a court order that says you cannot move, you can move. However, by doing so you are taking the risk that a Judge may order you to come back or may order that the child stay with the other parent. It is best to have the issue addressed before you leave if this happens, but sometimes it is not possible.

If you are not sure if you have a restriction or a notice requirement, it is best to seek the advice of a child custody attorney to help you fully understand your court order and know what your obligations are before you plan to make the move. Do not wait until it is time to move as sometimes, the Court system does not move as quickly as we would like. You could be stuck in litigation for a long time, sometimes it can even be years. Depending on what party you are, this could be a pro or a con.

One of the most important factors a Judge will likely consider when being asked to lift a restriction is how involved the other parent has been with the child. Asking a Judge to allow a parent with a geographical restriction to move can be a difficult task, especially if the other parent is heavily involved in the child’s life. If the other parent has not been involved in your child’s life, you would want to provide evidence to the Judge, such as:

  • calendar for missed days of visitation
  • phone records to show a lack of communication with the child
  • medical records to show what parent maintains the child’s medical care and attends appointments
  • daycare records to show who drops off and picks up the child and who gets the child in the event of sickness or an emergency
  • school records to show who meets with teachers, counselors, etc.
  • text messages, emails or social media posts that can document a lack of care for the child
  • history of delinquent child and/or medical support payments

If the other parent has a history of being non-existent and not really involved in the child’s life, a Judge is more likely to lift a geographical restriction.

If you foresee a relocation in your future, consult with an attorney as soon as you can to know your options. If you have a case that is still pending and a court order has not yet been signed, make sure you consider the possibilities of the future when agreeing to any type of restriction. The last thing you want to be faced with is having to quit your job to move back, having to defend yourself in an enforcement action or having to make the choice between your new job and being the parent that has custody.

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