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Can one parent leave Texas if they are subject to a custody order?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Family Law

In Texas, it is standard in most cases for parents to share custody of their minor children when they divorce or break up with one another. The courts often do their best to support co-parenting relationships where each adult has regular access to the children.

That can all change rapidly if one parent decides that they want to leave Texas. Proximity is crucial for the facilitation of regular custody exchanges. One adult moving out of Texas can directly affect their time with the children and possibly even the bond that the other parent has with their shared children.

Is it legal and appropriate for one parent to leave Texas while subject to a custody order?

The state can’t stop an adult from moving

Technically, not even a custody order can force someone to stay in a state against their own wishes. If someone obtains a job offer in Oklahoma or wants to move to New Mexico to get closer to their family members for support after the divorce, the courts usually don’t prevent them from making the decision to relocate.

However, the courts can weigh in on any relocation that involves the children. If someone intends to move far enough away from their current residence to change custody arrangements or they plan to leave the state, they need permission to take the children with them. Typically, those proposing a long-distance relocation have to notify their co-parent and the courts.

If the co-parent agrees that the move is necessary and beneficial, then the family can proceed with a modification to the custody order that reflects the current circumstances of both parents. If the adults disagree about the necessity of the move or how beneficial it may be for the children, then the matter may need to go to family court.

A judge handling contested custody matters, including move-away requests, considers what they believe might be in the best interest of the children. They can grant a parent the right to move with the children or modify the custody order to allow the parent to move without the children.

Parents generally need to be proactive about providing notice before they move and about responding if they disagree with a proposed move because it could affect their parental rights. Understanding the rules that apply in shared custody scenarios in Texas can help parents advocate for themselves and their relationships with their children accordingly.