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Am I limited as to where I live when I have shared custody?

 Posted on March 25, 2018 in Blog

The default position of courts in Texas is that both parents should be involved in their child’s life to the greatest extent possible. Often, this translates to joint custody, legally called joint conservatorship in Texas.

Does that mean you are basically restricted to living out the next X years in the city where you live? For example, could you accept job offers several hours away or move across the country for a few years to take care of an ailing parent?

Geographic restrictions

Visitation orders and child custody orders have geographic restrictions that explain where the parents may live under the terms of the current agreement. So, yes, if you want to relocate, your child’s other parent could make a case that doing so is not in the child’s best interests. You may have to choose between the relocation and custody of your child.

The reality

The reality tends to be a little different than what orders say. For example, if you and your co-parent cannot make ends meet and you are able to take a well-paying job hours away, the court might give serious consideration to allowing you to move and to take the child with you. In fact, a judge might not need to get involved except to approve a final decision. This could happen if your co-parent sees the necessity and wisdom in your relocation and agrees to it.

Another option could be to voluntarily relocate without your child. You can use virtual visitation and generous visitation schedules to still get quality time with your child.

Child’s best interests

It is normally in a child’s best interest to have both parents close by and involved. However, courts do recognize that sometimes it is in a child’s best interest for one parent to have a better-paying job that guarantees stability for the child. Other valid relocation reasons could involve extended family and better support networks.

Also, if you have physical custody of your child and your ex visits with the child something like every other weekend, your chances of being able to relocate may be better.

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