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Can I move out of state with my children?

As a divorced Texas parent with residential custody of your children, it may never have occurred to you that you are not in total control of your or their lives. For instance, if your employer gives you a promotion that requires you to move out of state, can you do this?

Section 153 of the Texas Family Code states that you must obtain a judge’s permission to move your children out of state.

Consent of ex-spouse

The first step in your relocation efforts should be to reread all your divorce documents looking for any geographical restriction provisions. If you find any, your next step should be to contact your former spouse to inform him or her of your proposed relocation and why it will serve your children’s best interests as well as your own. Even if your divorce documents contain no geographical restrictions, you likewise should contact your ex-spouse and discuss the situation with him or her.

If (s)he consents to your proposed relocation, this will make your life much easier in obtaining the required judicial permission to proceed. You and your ex-spouse should draft a new parenting plan that will, for instance, give him or her increased visitation time during your children’s summer vacations, Christmas and spring breaks, etc. This will make up for the fact that the distance between your new residence and his or hers may well preclude the more frequent contact (s)he currently has with the children. You should submit this new parenting plan to the court along with your request for permission to move out of state. Most judges grant such requests as long as they find that the relocation and the new parenting plan are in the best interests of the children.

Should your former spouse object to your move, however, then you need to prepare yourself for a possibly acrimonious custody hearing at which you will need to present clear and convincing evidence that your proposed relocation benefits your children as much as it does you.

Texas public policy

Texas has a strong policy regarding children and families. This policy consists of three main goals as follows:

  1. Children should live in a stable and safe environment.
  2. Both parents of any child should spend as much time as possible with him or her after a divorce and continue sharing parental responsibilities.
  3. Both parents of any child should continue to have regular contact with him or her after a divorce.

Consequently, the judge must satisfy himself or herself that your proposed relocation really does serve your children’s best interests, not just yours. This educational information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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