Let us say you are a divorced parent who has earned a promotion at work, but the new position requires a move to a branch office across the state.
You plan to take your nine-year-old daughter with you, but relocation requires modifying your child custody agreement. How difficult will that be?
The view of Texas courts
Texas family law courts do not view relocation petitions lightly; this is a highly litigated area. The fact that your petition involves moving a significant distance away from the other parent, the child’s current school, her friends and everything familiar to her poses obstacles for your daughter in the court's view. The judge will take several matters into consideration:
- Your motivation for the relocation request
- Whether you and the other parent have worked out a satisfactory visitation schedule
- Whether this new visitation plan is practical
- Whether your daughter will be able to adjust to her new life
At the age of nine, your child is not old enough to speak for herself as far as the law is concerned. Therefore, the burden will be on you to convince the court you take her best interests into consideration—that, in fact, they are a top priority—in the relocation request.
Things to remember
Be prepared to present evidence that backs up your petition for agreement modification. This may be a letter from your employer that confirms your promotion and need for relocation. Remember, the court places emphasis on your daughter’s stability with reference to her circumstances following a move and how much contact she still needs to have with both her parents.
Developing a strategy
Changes happen in life, and a request for child custody agreement modification is not uncommon. However, it is wise to look at your legal options and determine how open the court would be to your petition for relocation. One approach is to work out a satisfactory arrangement with the co-parent concerning a visitation plan that improves your chances of court approval.