There is no Texas statute directly addressing the issue of relocation in Texas. A court ruling or decision regarding relocation must be based upon the standard “best interest” of the child. The public policy of the State of Texas is to assure the children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child; provide a safe, stable and nonviolent environment for the child; and, encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
What Factors Must A Court Consider In Determining Whether A Proposed Move To Another State Is In The Best Interests Of The Child?
The Texas Family Code does not contain specific requirements for, or presumption specifically applicable to geographic restrictions or relocation. Therefore, case law must be reviewed for factors that courts consider in these types of cases. Many Texas cases recognize a link between the best interest of the custodial parent and the best interest of the child. Courts have considered the following factors (among others)as relevant:
- Lack of a vindictive motive in the custodial parent requesting a move;
- Child’s direct benefits from increased financial benefits of the custodial parent based upon new job and increased income;
- The child’s best interest. In the context of the custodial parent’s happiness;
- Custodial parent getting noncustodial parent increased amounts of visitation, reducing custodial parent summer visitation, and paying a majority of the costs incurred in transporting the child to visit noncustodial parent.
- The quality of the children’s relationship with the noncustodial parent;
- Difficulty in maintaining that relationship with the children. Based on the distance between noncustodial parent and children;
- The needs of the children to maintain a relationship with their noncustodial parent;
- Noncustodial parent’s efforts to accommodate the mother’s plans;
- Instability of the children’s prior residences with custodial parent;
- Location of extended family for both custodial and noncustodial parent;
- Noncustodial parent’s involvement in the child’s lives;
- Distance of the move;
- Custodial parent’s admission of monitoring noncustodial parents telephone conversations with the children;
- Custodial parent’s use of drugs;
- Testimony by court-appointed psychologist on the effect of the move on the children;
- Level of education to be received in the respective locations from the respective school districts.
Can A Parent Take A Child Out Of The State Temporarily, Such As For Vacation? What Needs To Be Settled Between The Court, Other Parent, etc.?
A parent may take a child out of state temporarily for vacation or other visitation purposes. Limitations are relevant to permanent moves, not temporary visits. Notice is required only if it’s required within the divorce decree. However, good co-parenting would suggest notice for vacations and other significant travel.
May A Parent With The Majority Of “Parenting Time” Move The Child Far Away Within The State?
A custodial parent may move the child away from the county within which the divorce decree was entered only if there is no residency restriction on the custodial parent.
Under What Circumstances Must The Parent Wishing To Move Provide Notice?
Texas Family Code Sec. 105.006 requires notice to be given to the other party, the court that rendered the order, and the state case Registry under Chapter 234 of an intended change in any of the information required by this section as long as any person, as a result of the order, is under an obligation to pay child support or is entitled to possession of or access to a child. The information referenced includes the parties’ current residence address, mailing address.
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