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As primary joint custodian am I able to relocate to a different state with my children?

San Antonio, TX |

Biological father has not had any type of contact with my children in 4 years. He does pay court ordered child support and the divorce decree lists me as having primary joint custody. My current husband has been offered a job in CA and there is a strong possibility that our family will be relocating in the very near future. Can my ex stir up problems if he ever decides to contact the children again and finds that we have relocated?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. It depends on what your custody order says. You can get into a lot of trouble for violating a Court order. If the order contains a domicile restriction you will need to file a Motion to Modify and get it lifted. Domicile Restrictions are usually hard to lift, but with a father who has not seen the child(ren) in 4 years, you should not have any problem. Consult with a Family Law Attorney ASAP.

    This does not establish an attorney/client relationship

  2. You need to review your divorce decree with a lawyer. The decree gives you the exclusive right to establish the primary residence for the children. It may or may not contain restrictions on where that can be.

    If you are moving outside the restricted area, you need to file a motion to modify and get an order before starting the moving process. Given your exes lack of contact, I imagine the court will agree.

    Don't wait till the last minute. These things take time.

    Good luck.

  3. Read the order, where it says you designate the primary residence of the children. It may say nothing further, which means you have no geographic restriction. It may say "without regard to geographic location, which means the same things. Or it may say "within____" which would mean there is a geographic restriction on the residence of the children. Courts do not readily lift geographic restrictions.

    This answer DOES NOT establish an attorney-client relationship. This answer is based on the limited information provided and is not intended to be conclusive advice. There are likely other factors that might influence or change the advice after a more lengthy consultation.

  4. It depends on what your order states. You need to hire a lawyer to review the order and see whether there is a geographic restriction.

    The above answer is from the limited information given and not meant to take the place of a full consultation regarding your legal questions. The answer is meant for general purposes and no attorney client relationship has been established.

  5. Your divorce decree will state whether the children's residence is restricted to a certain geographic area. The typical domicile restriction is your county of residence at the time of divorce, and the counties contiguous thereto meaning all counties that touch the county of residence. If you have such a restriction in the decree, then legally you must either obtain your ex's written consent to allow you to move the children and then file that consent with the divorce court, or if he won't consent, then you must file a suit to modify the restriction and ask the court to allow you to move the children's primary residence outside the restricted area. There are many factors that come into play to determine your odds of winning that suit but from what you have described, it sounds as though your fact situation is such that a court is very likely to grant your request to move the children. Normally, each case is about a 50/50 proposition and these cases are purely fact driven. No attorney can tell you definitively what any judge will do in any particular case.

  6. Read your decree to see if there's a residency restriction. If there is it will specifically state something to the effect that you can determine the children's primary residence within Bexar County. If it says nothing then the orders do not restrict you. However there is a notice requirement of your intent to relocate. Send him a letter by certified mail to his last known address stating that you intend to move and provide an address if possible. Communication or the attempt to communicate with him is key. If you provide notice and he fails to do anything about it (Along with the fact he hasn't seen the kids in 4 years) then you have a good defense if he decides to enforce the residency restriction later. Keep in mind judges are rational people.

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