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How family law courts view move-away custody cases

Texas courts consider the best interests of the child as the highest goal when deciding custody cases. However, these interests can be difficult to determine when a custodial parent, whether for economic or personal reasons, decides to relocate. This can drastically affect the involvement that the other parent has in the life of the children, and it often falls to the court to determine whether the child can stay or go.

It has been noted that divorce situations that involve controversy over relocation can be the most difficult of cases, and are often the most likely to require the intervention of a court to resolve. The court will take several factors into account when deciding whether to grant permission for the child to move or stay. Distance is one of the most important factors, especially in a place as big as Texas. It is possible to relocate within the state of Texas and still be a thousand miles away from the original place of residence.

The move may make it difficult for the noncustodial parent to continue with visitation rights and access to the child. Longer moves, especially international moves, will require more scrutiny from the court than distances of only a few dozen miles. Courts often allow children who have reached a certain age to express their preferences. However, if the child is very young, then the court will be reluctant to allow relocation away from a parent to which they have a strong attachment.

The availability of financial and familial support in either location will also be an important factor. However, the court will seek to ensure that the relocation is not being proposed as a way to punish the noncustodial parent.

Source: The Huffington Post, "In the Child's Best Interest: What It Means in Move-Away Cases", Lisa Helfend Meyer, February 12, 2014

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