Texas law presumes that joint custody, which involves frequent contact between parents and children, benefits children. This may be so when the parents live close together, and the child’s life isn’t disrupted when they go from one parent to the next. But perhaps circumstances have changed, and now you or your child’s other parent has to move. Moving back and forth between two homes may adversely affect your child if your two homes are far apart. You may wonder, How far away can you move with joint custody in Texas?
Generally, Texas courts examine all child custody arrangements based on the child’s best interests. This includes whether to grant joint custody when parents live far apart. The Texas child custody attorneys at the Larson Law Office have extensive experience handling these sensitive and critical custody issues.
Texas Joint Custody Laws
In Texas, joint custody is generally called a joint managing conservatorship. This custody arrangement typically requires parents to equally share the right to make significant decisions about the child, such as their child’s education and healthcare. It also typically involves parents scheduling physical time with the child via a parenting plan schedule. Each parent’s time with the child may not be precisely equal in a joint custody arrangement.
Even with joint managing conservatorship, one parent typically has the right to determine the child’s primary residence. The parties may agree to this arrangement. Otherwise, the court may decide this issue based on the child’s best interests, which often reflects the status quo as to which parent is the primary caregiver for the child.
Child Relocation Under Texas Family Law
The Texas family code has no statute specifically addressing a child’s relocation after divorce. However, Texas courts tend to view these cases under the framework of considering what is in the child’s best interest. How far one can move away with joint custody in Texas depends on the child’s best interest and any restrictions in the existing custody agreement.
It is important to note that no laws prohibit a parent from relocating wherever they please. However, if the parents have a joint custody agreement or order, they must take legal action before moving the child to the new location.
How Far Can You Move Away with Joint Custody?
How far away can you move with joint custody in Texas? This depends on several case-specific factors. Under a joint custody agreement, neither parent has the exclusive right to move so far away that it disrupts the other party’s access to frequent and continuing contact with their child. Many Texas custody agreements include geographic restrictions. These geographic rules may restrict the parent’s residence to the county where they lived at the time of the order or to a neighboring or adjacent county so long as it is within reasonable travel distance for the other parent.
How to Legally Relocate with a Joint Custody Order
In Texas, there are typically two ways a parent with a joint custody arrangement can legally relocate their children. Either the parents must agree, or the moving parent will have to get permission from the court. However, even if the parents agree, since the custody order is a judicial order, they’ll still typically need to obtain permission from the court.
Parents who share joint custody can move if the other parent agrees. However, even if the parties agree to the move, the court must address child support, travel schedules, and visitation. The court will also examine whether the new arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
A parent seeking relocation may need to petition the court for permission to relocate with their child if the other parent does not agree to the move. However, the primary parent must establish that the move is in the child’s best interest.
Factors Texas Family Courts Consider
How far can a parent move with joint custody when the other parent disagrees with the move? Texas courts understand that both parents have the right to the care, custody, and control of their children. However, parents also have the right to travel freely.
In balancing these interests, the court will examine various factors to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interest. Some factors include the following:
- The safety and stability of the potential living environment;
- The reasons for the move;
- The opportunities the move could provide to the child;
- The child’s age, health, and educational needs;
- The child’s ability to adjust;
- The nature of the child’s existing relationship with their parents;
- If the move accommodates the child’s interests or talents; and
- The impact on the other parent’s ability to maintain a continuous relationship with the child.
Children may also assert their opinions about whether they want to move.
Get Legal Assistance with Child Custody Relocation Issues
If you or your child’s other parent wants to move, you should speak with a family law attorney right away. The lawyers at the Larson Law Office have significant experience fighting for the rights of our family law clients. We provide each client with dedicated and highly-personalized service designed to meet their goals. To learn more, schedule a no-obligation consultation today. You can also reach us at 713-221-9088 or through our online contact form.