Your Texas Divorce Decree has a geographical residency restriction -- can you ever modify the terms?
What if a parent decides to relocate?
The public policy of Texas Courts is to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have demonstrated that they will act in the best interest of the child, provide a safe, stable and nonviolent environment in which to raise the child, and encourage parents to share in the rights, duties and privileges of raising their children if, as and when the parents' marriage is dissolved by divorce.
Embracing relocation--versus using Solomon's Sword
We cannot split the baby. We cannot clone the child. How to best keep the child's world together. Courts are faced with the same dilemma that parents involved in such cases are: allow a parent to stay within the geographical residency restriction boundaries and keep the child, or leave and lose the child.
New York, by way of cross reference
In Tropea, the New York Court of Appeals ruled " . . . each relocation request must be considered on its own merits with due consideration of all the relevant factors and circumstances and with predominant emphasis being placed on what outcome is most likely to serve the best interests of the child . . .it is the rights and needs of the children that must be accorded the greatest weight.
Texas Family Code Section 156.202(2)
Modification must be "a positive improvement for and in the best interest of the child."
Things the Court may consider
1. Is there going to be an improvement to the parent's financial status? 2. Would the relocation positively affect the child's emotional and mental state? 3. Will the child have the right to have regular and meaningful contact with the parent remaining in town? 4. Can a party adapt their work schedule to be with the children following the move?
Consider what you need to do
Prove your case. Gather information about new home, new job, and the potential school district. Prove that the child can stay in touch in a variety of ways, including FaceTime, Skype, email, texts and phone calls. Seek an interview of the child in chambers by the judge. Seek a child custody evaluation. Don't give up before you start. Always -- keep the child's best interests first and foremost.
Additional resources provided by the author
Texas Family Code Section 106.002
Texas Family Code Section 153.134(b)
Bruni v. Bruni, 924, S.W.2d 366, 368-69 (Tex. 1996)
Lenz v. Lenz, 79 S.W.3d 10,45 Tex.Sup.Ct.J. (Tex. 2002)
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