How Far Can a Parent Move With Joint Custody in Texas?

Texas child custody laws play a critical role in shaping family dynamics post-divorce, particularly when one parent is considering relocation. The custodial parent, who has been granted primary physical possession of the child, may decide to move for various reasons such as better job opportunities, proximity to family members, or improved living conditions.

However, Texas courts generally impose geographic restrictions to preserve the parent-child relationship and ensure the non custodial parent’s ability to maintain frequent and continuing contact with the child.

A parent’s ability to move with joint custody in Texas is determined by several factors, with the child’s best interests always being paramount. It’s advisable for any parent considering a move to consult with an experienced lawyer, as relocation can significantly impact a parent’s rights, a child’s life, and the dynamic between parents and family members.

At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, our legal team is equipped to provide the guidance and support needed in these complicated situations.

Arrange a consultation with an experienced family law attorney today at 832-471-6904.

Understanding Joint Managing Conservatorship

In Texas, the standard custody arrangement, known as joint managing conservatorship, is designed to keep both parents involved in the child’s life. According to Texas Family Code, this shared legal custody requires both parents to collaborate on major decisions affecting the child, ensuring each parent has legal decision-making authority.

Joint custody also allows the child to maintain a closer relationship with both parents, though one parent, known as the primary parent, usually sustains the child’s primary residence. Any parent wanting to relocate should consider the potential consequences for the other parent and the impact the move will have on their ability to maintain a close bond with the child.

Geographic Restrictions and Child Relocation

Texas courts frequently enforce geographic restrictions in child custody orders to balance the interests of the child and both parents. Under these restrictions, the primary parent may not move the child’s primary residence outside a specified area—usually the current county and any adjacent counties—without court intervention or the other parent’s consent.

Geographic restrictions help ensure the non-moving parent, or the non-primary parent, maintains a strong and active role in the child’s life. These limitations promote stability for the child, particularly in terms of school districts and social relationships, and they maintain the visitation schedule with the non custodial parent.

Addressing Relocation in the Court

The parent seeking relocation is required to file a petition to the court to modify the existing custody order if they want to legally relocate outside the geographic restrictions. Texas Family Courts look at these petitions and consider parental relocation cases on a case-by-case basis, and strive to prioritize the child’s best interests.

The court’s decision may be influenced by a variety of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, the reasons for the move, the child’s age, their school performance, the noncustodial parent’s ability to visit the child, as well as the potential harm that may be caused to the child. 

When the Move is Allowed

The court may grant the permission for relocation with the child for several reasons.

  1. If the other parent has limited involvement in the child’s life
  2. If there is a history of domestic violence
  3. The move would substantially improve the child’s living conditions

Texas law however stresses that the child maintains a significant relationship with both parents, and moving a child far away from one parent can be a complex legal issue that requires the guidance of an experienced attorney. You should discuss relocation with an experienced family law attorney before making any decisions.

How The Child’s Preference Impacts Relocation

According to the Texas Family Code, a child who is 12 years old or older has the right to express their preference on where to live to the court, but the court is not obligated to honor this preference.

The judge will take the child’s wishes into account when making their decision, but ultimately it is based on what the court believes is to the benefit of the child’s welfare. Factors considered can include each parent’s living situation, the child’s relationship with each parent, the health, welfare, and safety of the child.

The child’s preference though is just one factor among many. Ultimately there is no age at which a child in Texas can decide where to live.

Comprehensive Representation From The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC

The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC is here to help you navigate the complicated terrain of family law, including challenging issues like joint custody and parental relocation. We are dedicated to providing high-quality legal representation and comprehensive service to our clients.

Deep Understanding of Texas Family Law

Our experienced attorneys have a deep understanding of Texas family law and child custody laws. Utilizing our collective knowledge and experience, we provide effective legal strategies and advice tailored to your unique situation.

Effective Communication and Negotiation Skills

At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we believe in maintaining open and consistent communication with our clients. We’re always prompt in answering your questions and provide clear and understandable legal advice. Our skilled negotiators will tirelessly work on your behalf, whether we’re advocating for you in court or negotiating with the other parent.

Aggressive Courtroom Advocacy

When necessary, our lawyers are not afraid to go to trial to defend your rights and the best interests of your child. We will stand up for you, presenting a compelling case to the judge. Our lawyers have an impressive track record of obtaining favorable outcomes in complex family law cases.

Client-Centric Approach

We approach every case with our client’s needs at the forefront. We know that each situation is unique, so we offer personalized legal solutions tailored to your individual circumstances. Your attorney will work closely with you to understand your goals and to devise a strategy that best meets those goals.

Empathy and Support

We recognize that family law matters can be stressful and emotionally draining. That’s why, in addition to providing top-tier legal representation, we also offer compassionate support throughout the process. We’re not just your attorneys – we’re your allies.

The Love DuCote Advantage

When you choose to work with The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, you’re choosing a team of dedicated attorneys who are committed to fighting for your best interests. We’ll be there for you every step of the way, offering guidance, support, and the legal expertise needed to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.

How Far Can a Parent Move With Joint Custody in Texas? FAQ

A geographic restriction is a court-imposed limitation in a child custody order that prevents the primary parent from moving the child’s primary residence beyond a certain area, usually within the current and adjacent counties, without court intervention or consent from the other parent.

Yes, if a custodial parent is planning to move outside the geographic restriction area, the non-custodial parent can challenge this in court. The court will consider all the evidence and make a decision in the child’s best interests.

Texas family courts consider numerous factors, including the reason for the move, the child’s age, school performance, the impact on the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights, potential harm to the child, and any other factors that might affect the child’s best interests.

If you’re the primary parent seeking to relocate outside the geographic restriction area, you must file a petition to modify the custody order with the court. This can be complex, and it’s best to speak with an attorney before you take any steps forward.

If there’s no geographic restriction in the custody order, the custodial parent typically can move. However, the non-custodial parent still has the right to file a motion to modify the court order based on the proposed relocation.

Moving without appropriate notice or court permission can have severe consequences, including losing custody, being held in contempt of court, or facing criminal charges. Always speak to a family law attorney before making any relocation decisions.

Take Action Today – Protect Your Parental Rights with The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC

Are you considering a move with joint custody or facing a potential child relocation issue? Navigating Texas child custody laws can be overwhelming and stressful. You don’t have to face it alone. The experienced attorneys at The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC are here to provide guidance and support throughout your case.

Our family law team is deeply committed to advocating for your rights and the best interests of your child. We understand the complexities of parental relocation cases and are well-equipped to help you explore your options, understand potential outcomes, and devise a strong legal strategy.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Protect your rights, your relationship with your child, and secure the best possible outcome for your family. Reach out to us today at 832-471-6904 for a comprehensive consultation.

At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, your family’s future is our priority.