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Relocating with your child as primary custodial parent

A parent deciding to relocate with his or her child to another state can make an already difficult custody situation even more contentious. Unless the parenting agreement the two of you drafted specifically speaks to relocations, then the prospect of a child being taken a long distance away from his or her other parent may be hard for him or her to take kindly to it.

Judges are generally asked to step in and make custody decisions when agreements don't mention what happens if a parent moves away. In cases like this, often state laws have been drafted that spell out when and what type of notification the custodial parent must give the other before a move is made. It might also include rules that must be followed for getting the other parent's consent as well.

As far as getting the parent's consent is concerned, the laws in your jurisdiction might require you to get express consent before moving away. If it does, then it should already be written into your parenting plan. A proposed schedule for visitation should also be included in the plan if it was discussed during the original custody hearing.

In contrast to this, there's what called notice and consent. If you live in certain jurisdictions, then you'll be required to give as much as 90 days notice before a move happens. By doing so, it allows the other parent ample time to either consent or object to the move.

If a judge has to become involved in resolving the matter, then he or she is responsible for deciding what choice will be in the child's best interest, even if it ultimately means that the child cannot move. A judge can decide that the move is not in the child's interest, even if it's only just over 100 miles of your current location. Moves that take the child across state borders are often frowned upon.

A judge will generally require that the petitioning parent demonstrates that the move is for a valid reasons and not to just take the child away from the other parent. Factors that may motivate a move include a reduced cost of living, educational or job opportunities or moving to be close to family.

Any move will inevitably involve a modification to a visitation schedule, which must be approved by the judge in the case. A Houston child custody attorney can guide you through that process.

Source: FindLaw, "Child custody relocation laws," accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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