Dwyer Law Firm, Attorney at Law

Can A Parent Move Out Of State After A Divorce?


No. The general rule is that the Final Decree of Divorce usually contains a residency restriction on the primary/custodial parent. With a residency restriction, the custodial parent is usually restricted to living with the child in the county of divorce and all counties contiguous thereto. Additionally, the restriction lasts as long as the non-primary parent lives in the county of the divorce or contiguous counties. However, if the non-primary parent moves outside of the county of divorce and contiguous counties, then the primary parent may move anywhere.

Make note that it is the public policy of the State of Texas is to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents that show the ability to act in the best interest of the child. The primary consideration on all issues regarding the child is “what is in the best interest of the child”. Texas statutes also allow a child 12 years of age or older to be interviewed in chambers on issues of conservatorship. Moreover, the Texas Family Code does not address the specific requirements for modification in the residency restriction context and there is no specific statute governing residency restriction or their removal.

There are factors that the court may consider on a relocation issue. Evidence would need to be developed on as many of those factors as is possible to convince a court to lift the residency restriction.

At What Point Can A Child Decide Which Parent They Want To Live With?

A child never gets to set decide with which parent he or she will live. However, Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code provides that the court shall interview in chambers a child 12 years of age or older and may interview in chambers, a child under 12 years of age to determine child’s wishes as to conservatorship or as to the person who shall have the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence.

How Are The Best Interests Of The Child Determined By The Courts?

Texas law provides that the “best interest of the child” will always be the primary consideration of the court in determining issues of conservatorship, possession, and access. Further, Texas law provides that there can be no discrimination based on sex or marital status when determining which parent to appoint as sole managing conservator, or joint managing conservator or in awarding terms and conditions of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.

How Does Someone Begin The Process Of Filing For Child Support?

The process to obtain child support starts with the filing of a suit. Either it is a divorce proceeding from the other spouse with a request for child support contained therein or it is a suit affecting parent-child relationship by one parent against the other when there was no marriage between the parents. If the parents can agree on a child support amount and the court determines that it is in the best interest of the child, then the agreement will be approved by the court. However, if the agreement is significantly outside the parameters of the child support statute of the State of Texas then it may not be approved by the court.

Can Child Support be Avoided In A Divorce Scenario?

Yes, but only in rare cases. If one parent has primary or the right to determine domicile of the child (custody) then absent an agreement from the primary parent of no child support and approval by the court that it’s in the best interest of the child that no child support be paid, then child support will be ordered by the court.

Do Children Ever Have To Appear In Court For A Custody Case?

Generally, children do not appear in court. Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code provides in a non jury trial, the court shall interview in chambers a child 12 years of age or older and may interview in chambers a child under 12 years of age to determine the child’s wishes as to conservatorship or as to the person who shall have the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence. In a jury trial a child may be called as a live witness. However, that is not a regular occurrence nor is it favored by the court.

How Long Do Child Support Issues Generally Take To Get Resolved?

Suits involving child support, if not part of a divorce proceeding generally conclude within 2 to 4 months. Because the amount of child support is statutory, the disputes regarding child support are limited. Child custody matters, on the other hand, can take a much greater amount of time to conclude. The issues are much more extensive and the stakes are much higher.

Can Someone Handle Child Custody Or Support Matters On Their Own?

The quick and easy answer is “yes”. However, generally, anyone with a child custody/child support matter before a court should seek competent legal assistance. Many times parties who try to go it alone eventually need a lawyer to draft the decree and other documents to make sure they comply with the law. If they don’t the judge may not sign them. It is important to know that the court/judge cannot give legal advice to a party for divorce. Therefore, I recommend parties find an attorney to assist with the drafting of the documentation necessary to finalize a divorce.

If the only issue is child support, then the Attorney General’s office of the State of Texas will probably be involved. Whether it’s the Attorney General or any other attorney, generally, a person without an attorney will be at a significant disadvantage in any court proceeding. Therefore, you need an experienced family lawyer, and especially one who has experience in the courtroom to assist you with such very important matters.

For more information on Moving Residence After Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (972) 746-2805 today.

Rex Dwyer, Esq

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