A commonly contentious item in divorce proceedings has to do with child custody, which involves the rights and responsibilities of caring for the child. This challenging situation may be exacerbated if a custodial parent relocates, forcing the other parent to engage in a long-distance relationship with the child. This is especially the case if an existing agreement states that the non-custodial parent is afforded visitation rights.
In all custody matters, Texas courts generally use the principle of the best interests of the child to determine what is allowed and not allowed. If the courts determine that an out-of-state relocation is contrary to the best interests of the child, the custodial parent may be required to remain in the state. In many cases, out-of-state relocation requires express consent given in the form of a clause within the child custody plan in the divorce agreement. It may also be required that the custodial parent serve notice to the non-custodial parent in writing within 3 months of the intended move.
It is usually considered in the best interests of the child to have two active parents in his or her life. This means that the relocating parent is generally required to draw up a visitation schedule to include times and places for the noncustodial parent to visit. Where increased travel costs are concerned, any existing alimony or child support orders may be modified due to the additional travel costs possibly incurred by either parent.
Relocation is often a complex matter for parents to handle. However, a divorce lawyer may ensure that it does not become an issue by including a relocation clause in the divorce agreement addressing any possible questions either party might have. A divorce lawyer may also assist with general custody, child support, property division and other matters related to the separation.
Source: Findlaw, “Child Custody Relocation Laws“, December 05, 2014