Out of state custody usually needs a judge’s approval. If a parent moves the child to another state without having legal permission, he may be subject to fines or even jail time.
In some cases, if one of the parents is aware that the other one intends to relocate in the near future, it’s highly recommended to discuss such matters from the start, and include long-distance custody terms in the initial custody claim.
It’s better to consult a knowledgeable Texas family law attorney who will explain your options. The Dieye Firm is ready to represent you today and make sure your out of state custody case is successfully handled.
In general, when establishing child custody, the custody order contains the details and limitations regarding a parent’s right to relocate (together with the child). This prevents the parent from simply taking the kid and leaving, or moving out of state, without any notice or consent from the court or the other parent.
In case the other parent wants to stop you from moving, he can attempt to do so by filing an application for a temporary restraining order. This puts your relocating plans on hold until the court sets up a relocation hearing and makes a decision.
At this point, it is prudent to seek advice from a Houston family law attorney who will explain the impact generated by such decisions upon the custody and visitation rights to you.
The hearing will be based on solid reasons regarding relocation, such as:
- Job relocation, when there are no similar career options in the current place of residence;
- Moving closer to blood relatives who may help provide care for the child.
The decision will be made based on other factors, for instance:
- The child’s age;
- If the judge suspects that the real reason for moving out of the state is to alienate the child from the other parent, the decision will stop you from doing so;
- Child’s relationship with both parents;
- Reason behind the parent’s proposed relocation;
- Possible educational advantages;
- A previous parental agreement in which both parents agreed that the child will not be relocated;
- The effects upon the child’s life (educational and emotional development in particular);
- The distance and the traveling costs;
- Ties with school friends, teachers, relatives, and other members of the current local community.
The following procedures usually take place:
- A 60-day notice sent to the spouse who is left behind;
- The visitation calendar will be revised and approved by a judge before leaving.
Under Texas law, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) protects the rights of non-custodial parents in case the other parent intends to take the child and move out of the state (or more than 100 miles away from the current location). This statute also sets standards applicable if a child is abducted by the non-custodial parent and enforces the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.
The “home state” doctrine
If Texas is a child’s “home state,” you need to know that the UCCJEA is based on the “home state” rule. According to this doctrine, a court from the new state of residence will have to legally enforce the existing child custody and visitation rights order previously settled under Texas law.
Under the UCCJEA, the jurisdiction to rule on a custody case officially goes to the state where the child:
- Has lived for at least six months;
- Was abandoned;
- Developed relationships with individuals from that state, such as: relatives, school friends, teachers, or other members of the local community;
- Currently lives in safe conditions, while in his home state there is a crisis, which might put the child in danger.
How to prevent?
If you foresee relocation and you don’t want to have your child relocated to another state, you can prevent this by:
- Continuously taking care of the relationship you have with your child;
- Be involved in as many parental activities as possible;
- Keep track of the time you have spent with your child and mention the activities you’ve done together;
- Write down any details that show you qualify as a “good parent.”
All these actions will count during custody-related court hearings.
Seek knowledgeable legal advice today
Whether you are affected by a spouse’s relocation or you are the parent planning to move to another state, it’s useful to seek legal advice from a skilled family law attorney. In some cases, a real custody battle takes place, and you need legal guidance from an experienced lawyer. During our years of practice, we’ve helped parents from Houston, Brazoria County, Galveston, Fort Bend, and Harris to:
- Solve relocation issues;
- Claim their the right to modify the existing visitation schedule;
- Obtain “reasonable” visitation rights and spend more time with their children.
Call us today and schedule a free initial consultation.