In child custody orders, courts and parents do their best to attempt to plan for whatever future events might arise. However, sometimes circumstances change beyond what the parties anticipated.
A move is an example of this type of change. The primary custodial parent may want to move for many different reasons, such as a new job, better education or housing options or to be closer to family members. Regardless of the reason for the move, in most cases, the moving parent needs court approval.
Who needs court approval to move?
In most cases, the moving parent needs court approval to move unless the parenting plan specifically allows moving without approval. Most custody orders contain geographic restrictions that only a judge can modify. As a matter of public policy, Texas courts add geographic requirements to ensure that a child has “frequent, continuing contact” with both parents when possible.
What factors does the court consider?
The parent who wants to move must file a petition requesting the court to approve the move. The judge may consider a number of factors surrounding the move, such as:
- The reason for the move
- The child’s proposed housing and education options
- The child’s age and ability to adjust to a move
- Whether the child will still be able to have a meaningful relationship with both parents
- The moving parent’s ability to care and provide for the child
To approve the proposed move, the court must find that the move is in the child’s best interest.
Even if the other parent agrees to the move, court approval is usually still necessary. A move typically requires substantial changes to the parenting plan, such as visitation schedules, holidays, travel expenses and support.