Can You Relocate with Your Children after Divorce?
Life doesn’t stand still after divorce. If you meet someone new, or if you get a new job offer in a different area, you might want to move. Relocation with children, however, is not as easy as many parents think. Even if you have custody of your children, you could need to petition the court for permission before you get up and plant roots somewhere new.
At Hargrave Law, P.C., we help men and women who want to relocate or who want to block a relocation from happening. So much is at stake, so why go with an unseasoned attorney when you can hire an experienced advocate on your behalf?
When a Relocation is Restricted
Sometimes, one parent has sole custody, which in Texas we call Sole Managing Conservatorship. In this case, the parent generally can move if he or she wants without anyone’s permission.
However, when both parents are involved in the child’s life, they probably have a Joint Managing Conservatorship, along with a parenting plan that spells out custody and visitation. This parenting plan is usually quite detailed, and it gets incorporated into a divorce decree.
Most plans contain a restriction on where a child can reside. It might be as large as a county or as restricted as a school district, but it represents the agreement of both parents as to where the child will live.
If you want to move inside the geographic locations spelled out in the parenting plan, then there is usually no problem. You generally don’t even need the other parent’s permission to move to the other side of Fort Worth.
However, the parenting plan might limit your ability to move to a different city or outside the state. In that situation, you need one of two things to happen:
- The other parent agrees to the move
- You modify the parenting plan
Getting Your Ex to Agree to a Move
Don’t assume right out of the gate that your ex will try to block a move. There is a decent chance they will agree if the move is not very far away. Generally, that type of move will not disrupt the parenting and visitation schedule you have in place.
If a move is far away—to a different state or the other side of Texas, for example—then the other parent is likely to object. However, even here there are exceptions. It might be time to change the parenting plan anyway, especially as children age. Further, the other parent might be contemplating a move of their own, in which case there is no time like the present to negotiate a new parenting plan.
Modifying the Parenting Plan & Divorce Decree
When your ex doesn’t agree to the move, you will need to get a court’s permission before you can leave with the kids. Essentially, you will ask the court to modify the divorce decree that contains the parenting plan. (If you were never married, there is a similar process in place.)
Judges are typically leery to alter parenting plans, especially if they seem to be working for everybody involved. Nevertheless, judges will approve moves when they believe it is in the best interests of the children. And that is the key phrase—what is best for the child. What is best for Mom or Dad is not the focus.
Judges look at many factors before deciding whether to okay the move. For example, they might consider whether the child will be closer to extended family or whether their educational prospects will improve. This is a flexible analysis, and an experienced attorney can make a big difference in getting what you want.
Contact a Fort Worth Child Custody Lawyer Today
At Hargrave Law, we have experience obtaining or blocking parental relocations. Please contact us without delay.