If you’ve been through a Texas divorce and have young children, chances are you’ll need to “modify” your divorce decree when circumstances change and need to request a custody relocation.
While many life events can serve as the basis for a petition to change custody or as it is called in Texas a “petition to modify,” a primary conservator’s need to move or relocate often triggers a modification suit.
Original Living Location Circumstances
Tarrant County family law judges recognize that following a divorce, children benefit from the continued participation of both parents in their lives.
To ensure this continued participation post-divorce, Dallas family court judges impose a residency restriction on the primary joint managing conservator.
In other words, the parent who is granted the right to designate the primary residence of the child will need to commit to residing with the child in Tarrant County or a contiguous county.
Custody Modification Is Needed
If at the time the primary conservator seeks to move, the non-primary conservator no longer resides within Tarrant or contiguous counties, then this geographic restriction on child custody is void and must typically be lifted either by agreement of the non-primary parent or by court order following a suit to modify child custody.
Such a custody modification calls upon the court to balance the custodial parent’s ability to pursue their life and interests against the noncustodial parent’s interest in participating in their child’s life.
Making The Case for Custody Relocation
Many child custody attorneys have discouraged clients from seeking to relocate; however, a number of recent studies on post-divorce visitation and the rise of electronic access or “virtual visitation” have made the case for relocation.
Research has shown that one of the strongest circumstances correlated to a child’s post-divorce adjustment is the economic condition of the custodial parent.
Even when a child support order is complied with in full by the noncustodial parent, there is often a steep decline in the standard of living of a recipient spouse and their children.
The Child’s Best Interests
So if a custody relocation will improve the ability of the primary parent to provide for the child, isn’t it in the child’s best interest?
Also, the emotional health of the primary parent highly correlates with a child’s post-divorce well-being as it “ranks as one of the most powerful predictors of children’s adjustment following divorce.”
So, even if the purpose of the move is for the custodial parent to relocate closer to family or a new spouse, isn’t relocation in the child’s best interest?
Enter New Interaction Technologies
New technologies are available today that weren’t even considered possible twenty years ago when Texas laws on relocation were drafted.
Today, parents and children can Skype with no more than a computer and a webcam.
Because an iPhone lets you Facetime with a distant parent instantly, Tarrant and Dallas County family courts should reconsider their reluctance to allow modification of custody cases based on relocation in light of current technologies.
Schreier & Housewirth Can Help You With Custody Relocation Issues
At Schreier and Housewirth, we are recognized child custody attorneys committed to helping our clients in the Metroplex achieve the best outcomes for themselves and their children.
If you need to modify or change child custody because you need to move, call us to know your options.
For over 20 years, Metroplex divorce and child custody clients have turned to Schreier and Housewirth Family Law for aggressive custody representation.