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What will a judge consider before allowing a custodial parent to relocate with a child?

People change residences for all kinds of reasons, but people generally don't have to get court approval to relocate. That is not always the case, however, for divorced parents with minor children.

In Texas, unless an agreement between the parents says otherwise, a modification of a child custody order is needed if the parent with primary physical custody plans to move with the child to another county or beyond. Here let's discuss some matters a judge will consider before modifying a child custody order to allow for relocation.

If the parent without primary physical custody contests the move, then both parents may have to present their cases to a judge. The judge will consider each party's claims and evidence, all while keeping the child's best interests as the top priority.

Reasons a custodial parent may need to relocate with a child include the following:

  • The move would put the child closer to family who can help with child-raising responsibilities.
  • The custodial parent has been offered a job that would be in the child's best interests.
  • The custodial parent has arranged to continue his or her education, also in the child's best interests.

The distance the custodial parent intends to move is also a consideration. Generally, in Texas, if a judge grants a relocation that is less than 100 miles away from the non-custodial parent, then regular visitation guidelines apply. If the move places the parents more than 100 miles apart, or if the move takes the custodial parent and the child to another county, state or country, then there will be additional guidelines and considerations.

A judge may also consider the role the non-custodial parent has played in the child's life. Has the non-custodial parent actively helped care for the child? Or has the non-custodial parent been largely absent?

Every case is different, and parents with relocation concerns should not got it alone. Speak with an experienced family law attorney about your parental rights and obligations.

To learn more, please see The Shapiro Law Firm's relocation and modification overview.

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