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When a Custodial Parent Wants to Relocate: What You Need to Know About Texas Law

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Child Custody AttorneyThere are many different reasons why a parent may want to relocate to a new community with their child. A parent may want to take advantage of new career opportunities, move to be closer to extended family members, or simply get a fresh start.

Regardless of your specific circumstances, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under Texas law. Here, our Texas child custody lawyers highlight key things custodial parents need to know about our state’s relocation laws.

Sole Managing Conservatorship: An Exclusive Right to Move Without Permission

When appropriate, a Texas court may name a parent as the ‘sole managing conservator’ of their child. Essentially, a sole managing conservatorship is the equivalent of sole legal decision making for the child in Texas. If you have been named the sole managing conservator of your child, you would typically have the exclusive right to make most of the important decisions about the child’s life — including the right to establish the child’s primary residence without regard to geographic restriction.

In other words, a sole managing conservator usually does not need permission from a court or the other parent to relocate their child — even if they are moving out of state. However, notice of the move should generally be given to the other parent in a timely manner. If you have questions about your responsibilities as a sole managing conservator, contact a Texas family lawyer for assistance. 

Joint Managing Conservatorship: Relocation is More Complicated  

With a joint managing conservatorship is in place, parents share legal decision-making authority for most child-related issues. As Texas courts presume shared parenting is better for children. Joint managing conservatorships are more common than sole managing conservatorships. To be clear, a joint managing conservatorship does not always mean parents will split time equally. Quite the contrary, one parent may still be granted primary physical possession of the child.

As joint managing conservatorships are a form of shared legal custody, neither parent typically has the exclusive right to relocate the child. Instead, their ability to do so will depend on several factors — including any geographical restrictions contained in the initial custody agreement or custody order. In many cases, joint custody arrangements restrict the child’s primary residence to one or more counties within Texas.

If you want to relocate your child outside of these geographical restrictions, you will need a modification of the joint managing conservatorship arrangement. The most straightforward way to obtain a modification is through a consent agreement with the other parent. If obtaining a relocation agreement is not possible, you still have options available. An experienced Texas custody lawyer can help you build a case to prove to the court that relocation is in your child’s best interests.

Call Our Dallas TX Child Custody Attorneys for Immediate Assistance

At Orsinger, Nelson, Downing and Anderson, LLP, our Texas family lawyers are skilled, solutions-focused advocates for clients. If you have questions about child relocation, we can help. To set up a confidential initial appointment, please contact our law firm today. With law offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, and San Antonio, we are well-positioned to represent parents throughout Texas.