Shared custody, with both parents playing a role in the daily lives of the children, is typically the best solution in a divorce involving minor children in Texas. Provided that you can both secure housing in the same community where you previously lived together and can maintain your jobs or find new ones nearby, you and your ex can continue to be there for your children as they grow and mature.
Unfortunately, when personal, familial, financial or romantic circumstances change drastically, your ex may want to move out of the city, out of the county, out of Texas or even out of the United States. A drastic relocation could certainly impact your ability to spend time with your children. If your ex has started to discuss relocating, you will likely want to know what your rights are under Texas family law.
The courts expect your ex to report the move and ask for approval
Any change to the parenting plan requires formal approval. Typically, the courts will have some kind of limit on relocation included in the custody order issued with the divorce decree. If your ex wants to move to a place outside of the location distance covered in those documents, the courts will have to review that potential move and determine whether it is in the best interests of the children.
For a long time, there was a presumption that a move by the parent with primary custody would always be in the best interests of the children. These days, the courts want to know the motive for the move and will carefully consider how such a move will impact the children and their other relationships.
In some cases, the courts may decline to approve the relocation of the children, thereby necessitating substantial changes to the initial parenting plan. You could receive primary custody, with your ex receiving longer-term visitation during summer vacation and alternating holidays. It’s also possible that if the courts decline to allow the relocation, your ex will choose to stay in the area instead of moving and limiting their time with the children.
Moving without court approval is parental kidnapping
Having your child wind up somewhere that you can’t access them is perhaps the most frightening thing that could happen after a divorce. If you suspect potential parental kidnapping, you can ask the courts to intervene by changing the parenting plan now. If your ex does travel out of the state or country with your children, you may have to ask the courts to take action.
Asking for enforcement and responding in a timely manner to court summons regarding a potential parental relocation are two of the most important things you can do to protect your relationship with your children from a long-distance move.