We live in an increasingly mobile society. According to reporting from the The New York Times, nearly four in ten Texans were born outside of the state. It is normal for families to move around. That could mean moving to a new neighborhood in Austin, it could mean moving across the state, or it could even mean leaving Texas altogether.
Moving is always complicated for parents. If you are separated from your child’s other parent, moving out of town — or out of state — is especially challenging. A relocation could affect your child custody rights. In this article, our Austin child custody attorneys explain the most important things that parents need to know about moving out of state without custody agreement.
Talk to a Lawyer First: The Factors that Affect Parental Relocation
Moving with your child to another house in Austin or moving to a nearby community such as Round Rock or Georgetown is unlikely to be much of an issue. However, if you are attempting to relocate your child far away from Austin, whether it is several hours away to a place like Dallas or Houston, or it is to the other side of the country, you could face some legal hurdles.
If you have shared custody or the other parent has visitation time, your possible relocation with your child impacts their parental rights. This means that a Texas family court may not allow you to move. In fact, the rule is generally as follows: If your proposed move with your child will impair the other parent’s ability to spend time with the child, then you must either seek their approval for the relocation or you must get legal permission from a Texas court.
What does this mean? It means that you should not just pick up and move across the country with your child. Doing so could be a serious mistake. It could even initiate a set of events that ends with a court deciding to award primary legal custody to the other parent. Do not relocate without first speaking to a child custody lawyer. Your best option is always to reach an agreement with the other partner. If that agreement cannot be reached, you still may be able to get a court to approve the move. Your child custody lawyer can help you build a strong, compelling claim that the relocation is in your child’s best interests. In reviewing these cases, Texas family courts consider many different factors, including:
- The reason for the relocation;
- The distance of relocation;
- The impact on each parent; and
- The effect the move will have on the child.
What You Need to Know About the UCCJEA
Parents cannot simply leave Texas and escape the state’s jurisdiction. If you are moving out of state with no child custody agreement, you should have a general understanding of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Texas is one of 49 states that is a signatory to this law.
The UCCJEA will have important implications for your child custody case. First, the child’s ‘home state’ retains jurisdiction over their case. If a child custody order was entered in Texas, you cannot leave the state and file another claim in a different jurisdiction. Texas law controls the case. In addition, other U.S. states will enforce child custody and child visitation orders that originate out of Texas.
Collaborative Solutions Usually Work Best
When possible, it is best for parents who wish to relocate to work collaboratively with their former partner. Obviously, this will not always be practical or possible. In some cases, your former partner may be too unreasonable to make any real progress. Still, mutual relocation agreements are always preferable. This is by far the easiest way to ensure that a family court will not interfere with your move. If you can get consent from the other partner, you should have little trouble moving with your child.
Get Help From Our Texas Child Custody Lawyer
At the Law Office of Ben Carrasco PLLC, our Austin child custody lawyer has extensive experience handling cases related to relocation. If you are considering moving with your child or if your former partner is attempting to move away with your child, we can help. Please contact our Austin, TX law office today to schedule your fully confidential family law consultation.