Can you relocate with your child after divorce?

| Mar 16, 2020 | Firm News

When you’re a parent, a divorce decree doesn’t really mean that everything is truly final. Even after the judge has signed the papers on your parenting plan and custody agreement, issues can crop up that make it necessary to revise your plans.

For example, you may eventually hope to relocate so that you can take a better job, go back to school or be closer to family members who are willing to help with the kids. The big question, naturally, is whether you can take your child with you when you go.

Absent evidence to the contrary, the courts presume that children do best when both their parents are around and involved in their lives, so moving out of the area (especially if it requires a move that would put the other parent at a disadvantage when it comes to visitation) is tricky. If you move without giving your ex-spouse the required 60-days notice, it could be enough to cause a Texas court to transfer primary physical custody of your child away from you — which is certainly not what you want.

The smart thing to do is to request permission for the move from the court. To do that, you need to demonstrate how the move will benefit your child — not just you. That means explaining to the court things like:

  • How moving back to your hometown will allow your child to develop a close relationship with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — while also benefiting from the willingness of those relatives to provide childcare and other services
  • How moving so you can take a better job or improve your education will permit you to improve your child’s standard of living and provide other opportunities that your child currently lacks
  • How relocating to an area that has better schools or a wider availability of medical services can help your child (especially if that child has special needs)

You also must have a reasonable plan in place that will allow your ex-spouse to maintain their relationship with your child despite the distance.

Convincing a judge to allow you to move out of the area or state with your child can be difficult. It’s smart not to try to go it alone. An experienced attorney can help you present your best case.