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Can I move away with my child if I share legal custody?

The ability of one parent to move to a new location with a child depends on the child custody arrangements in place between the spouses. These arrangements will be either in the form of a court-ordered child custody decree or a court-approved child custody settlement. Either way, the terms of the custody arrangements in reference to relocation must be honored by both parents.

Before we discuss this issue further, it's important to understand that a parent with sole legal and physical custody will usually be free to travel and move wherever he or she wants. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives. Legal custody refers to the parent's right to make important decisions on behalf of his or her child. Parents who share any type of child custody, on the other hand, will need to obtain permission -- either from the other parent or the court -- before relocating somewhere far away.

Here are a few strategies that may allow a parent to relocate with his or her child:

You might already be allowed

Check to see if your child custody agreement allows you to move. In some cases, a child custody agreement will permit a parent to move with his or her child without first obtaining permission.

Get the other parent's permission

If the other parent's permission is required, you might be able to explain your reasoning and get him or her to agree to the move. This would probably require an update to your visitation agreement allow for long-distance visitations.

Petition the court

If the other parent won't agree to your move or if you can prove to the court why the move is in the best interest of your child -- and not simply about you -- you might succeed in gaining permission to move.

Most Texas parents with shared custody will be subject to a limitation regarding how far they can move with their children without first gaining court-approved authorization. If the limitation is 100 miles, for example, and the custodial parent receives an excellent job offer, it could be difficult to relocate to the new job. Violating this limitation without permission could result in the parent losing his or her custody and/or visitation rights. Make sure you understand your child custody and relocation rights before making a move like this.

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