Saturday, January 17, 2015

Relocation of a parent

What To Expect When a Parent Plans to Relocate in Texas

You or the other parent to your child custody agreement may have several reasons for wanting to relocate elsewhere.  It could be the appeal of a new job opportunity, a better quality of life, or even a new relationship.  Wanting to relocate when there is an existing child custody and visitation arrangement, however, can present challenges to Texas parents. 

Many Texas family court judges will not allow a child to move if the non-custodial parent has been very active in the child's life.

Marrying someone in the military or moving for an excellent job opportunity is usually not enough to show that the move would be "good" for the child.  

However, with Facetime , Skype and texting widely available, a parent can have access to their child several times a week no matter where the child lives.  

Mediation offers flexibility that a judge cannot order in a relocation case.  Perhaps the parent that wants to move will pay all the transportation costs or child support can be lowered so that the non-custodial parent can travel to visit the child.  Also, the non-custodial parent might get most of the summer and every spring break and most of the Christmas break in order to make-up for being able to see the child on a weekly basis. 

The parent who wishes to relocate must convince the court that such relocation is in the best interests of the child.  The default assumption is that such a move is not in the best interests of a child, so the parent wanting to move has the burden of proof.  With proper planning and preparation, however, both parents have a fair chance of convincing the court.  

The court will consider a handful of factors in determining whether the relocating parent should be allowed to move.  The age and maturity of the child, whether the move would improve the quality of life, and the distance between the old home and new home will all be evaluated.  The relocating parent should have a plan in place before going into court regarding schools and activities for the child.  A relocating parent should also consider how this move would impact existing custody arrangements and whether some travel plans could be made to accommodate the other parent’s visitation time.  Extended visits with the parent in the old location, for example, may be a concession that allows for visitation time and bonding with the children. 

A parent who plans to relocate in Texas can throw a wrench into existing custody arrangements without careful consideration of how the move will impact the children and the other parent.  Consulting with an attorney or mediation expert is strongly recommended.  

Mediation is often the best way to resolve relocation issues.  Why? Normally quicker, private, less stress and less expensive than litigation (going to court before the Judge.)
Mediation offers the parties a lot more flexibility than a Judge can do.  

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