When you’re going through a divorce, you automatically have to reassess your plans and goals. It’s time to let go of the picture you had of your future while married and embrace a different one.
For many people, that means relocating. Maybe you want to go back to your hometown. Maybe you want to move somewhere to get a better education or a different job. There are a dozen different reasons you may want to move away from your current location, but that can be a complicated prospect if you share a child with your soon-to-be ex.
You can’t simply pull up stakes and take your child with you — even if you have primary physical custody. Texas conforms to the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which prevents a parent from relocating with their child far away from the other parent without the court’s approval. Violating that rule could subject you to fines (or jail) and affect your custody rights.
So, what can you do?
If you know early you intend to move after the divorce
If you’re pretty sure that you want to move away after the divorce, make it part of your negotiations. You may have to adjust your expectations regarding custody — or develop a clear plan to help your ex and your child maintain a good relationship despite the distance.
If you don’t know until after the divorce that you want to move
Once custody and visitation are settled, you have to go back to court to ask for a modification of the order. This will mean explaining to the judge why you want to move and framing your argument that you should be allowed to take your child with you in terms that explain how doing so will actually benefit your child.
For example, if you want to be near your family, you might explain to the judge that your special needs child requires a lot of care — and that your parents are willing to provide it if you move. That’s a direct benefit to your child, so it could sway the court in your favor.
If you have a question about child custody and relocation, don’t hesitate to seek more information.