Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

5005 Riverway Drive, Suite 450 • Houston, Texas 77056

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Relocation With the Kids May Not Be Easy

Divorce is hard enough, but what happens when the parent having possessory conservatorship of the children wants to, or needs to, move?

Houstonians are often transferred to other cities or states by their employer. Or the custodial parent might want to relocate to be closer to family who can provide emotional support and help care for the children. But just because you have possessory conservatorship of your children doesn’t mean that they can automatically move with you. Your ex-spouse may agree to you taking the kids with you, or maybe he/she won’t agree.

When the initial custody of your children was decided, you’ll recall that the Judge’s main consideration was your children’s best interests. The custody laws of Texas intend that both parents play an active role in the children’s lives, even if the parent’s don’t live together. An active role means that both parents should share the duties of child-rearing, have frequent, continuous contact with the children, and provide the children with a safe, stable environment to grow up.

While the original custody order does not restrict where you live, it usually limits the children’s residence to Harris County and the surrounding area. The restriction is to ensure that the non-custodial parent has access to his or her children and can remain a part of the children’s lives. You must have your custody order modified if you want to take your children with you when you move.

Having a custody order modified can be fairly simple, or quite difficult. If your spouse agrees to your relocation out of the Houston area, the court generally will not oppose taking the children with you. If your ex-spouse opposes your move, he or she will file an application for a temporary restraining order. This will make your relocation challenging, because you won’t be able to move the children until a court hearing is held.

Houston courts consider modification to the original custody order on a case-by-case basis. Remember that the Court will always make decisions based on the child’s best interests. Whether or not your ex agrees with your move, you must provide the Court with compelling reasons why you are moving and why the children must go with you, even if your ex-spouse agrees. The Court will consider such factors as

  • The reason or reasons underlying your move. You cannot relocate merely to “get back at” your ex-spouse. If your reason is work-related, it must be because you can’t find comparable work in Houston.
  • How your relocation will affect your ex’s access to and communication with your children. Will your ex’s visitation rights be interrupted? How far are you moving? Does you ex-spouse have the means to see the children regularly? Will your move make your ex’s contact with the children difficult?
  • How your move will affect family ties. Not only the ties with your family, but ties with your ex’s family.
  • The educational, economic, and leisure opportunities for your child, you, and your ex.
  • How the move will affect the children. Your children might have a hard time adjusting to new surroundings. The Court might ask your children how they feel about moving.

Even if your ex does not oppose your relocation plans, both of you should consult with your Houston family attorney to make sure that any court order is not being broken and you are in compliance with Texas law.

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C.
Houston Divorce Attorneys

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