Relocation: Changing Domicile Restriction

We all know that going through a divorce can be exceedingly difficult for anyone who is involved. Even after your divorce has been finalized, there will inevitably continue to be divorce-related difficulties in your life for years to come. In Dallas, Addison, and in communities across North Texas, Williamson Law Firm is committed to helping our divorce clients successfully deal with the legal challenges they may face after the divorce is final.

After a child’s parents obtain a divorce, at some point in time, one parent may need or desire to relocate to another city, another state, or even out of the country. After a divorce in the state of Texas, when a divorced parent wants or needs to move in the face of an order that requires one to live in a specific area where the custody order and visitation order were issued, a court will examine how the move may affect the parents’ custody and visitation rights as well as the child’s own best interests.

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How does a need to move become a legal issue in Texas?

Texas child custody laws are sometimes perplexing and are always complicated. What is called a relocation case happens when a parent with “primary care” wants or needs to move away far enough to change the court-ordered custody arrangement. However, without consent for the move from the child’s other parent, a legal clash could emerge, and you will need to be represented at that point by a knowledgeable family law attorney in Dallas, Texas.

If a parent wants or needs to move away for a career reason or for any other reason, it almost certainly will require a modification to the court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements, and that parent will actually have to be granted the court’s permission to relocate. It does not matter how far a parent is moving – if the move affects the court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements, modified custody and visitation arrangements will be needed. Let an experienced Dallas family law attorney at Williamson Law Firm help.

Can a move-away request be denied in the state of Texas?

You might be surprised to learn that a Texas court may deny a parent’s move-away request. Of course, the court cannot stop an adult from moving, but the court can stop a custodial parent from taking the child or children along. The law in our state requires the best interests of the child to be “the primary consideration of the court,” so any parent requesting a move away will have to prove that the move is in the child’s best interests.

Sometimes, when a custodial parent desires to relocate with a child or children, the other parent may ask for a change of the custody order and seek to obtain custody of the child or children. If the reason for moving is work-related, a Texas court will certainly be sympathetic to the parent making the request, but if the parent who wants to move has physical custody, but the other parent does not approve the move, the request has the potential to be rejected by the court. A Texas court will not place even a parent’s career above the best interests of a child.

Of course, even before taking a move-away request to a judge, parents who are ex-spouses should try to reach their own agreement away from the courtroom. Williamson Law Firm frequently assists our clients with these kinds of negotiations, and a family law attorney at our Dallas firm can prepare all of the necessary legal paperwork on your behalf. If the parents are unable to agree out of court, a hearing will be scheduled where a modified child custody order will be ordered.

When a Texas court hears a move-away request, it considers the details of each specific case, so each case is determined on its own merits. Courts must have substantive reasons for denying any move-away requests, so the noncustodial parent must show the court that the move would be detrimental to the child’s best long-term interests. While a court in Texas cannot prevent an adult from relocating, it can determine which parent the child will be living with and what the custody and visitation arrangements will be.

The court will consider the following questions when a parent requests a change in domicile restrictions for relocation:


Will the move impair the visitation rights of the non-moving parent?


Will the child be able to continue a full relationship with the non-moving parent?


How will the move impact the child’s other family relationships?


How will the move affect the child economically, emotionally, and educationally?


Does the moving parent have motives based on bad faith? In other words, is putting more distance between the two parents a primary motive behind the relocation request?

Where can a parent turn for legal help in the Dallas area?

If your child’s other parent wants or needs to relocate, an experienced family law attorney at the Williamson Law Firm will almost certainly find a way to help you maintain your relationship with your child. If both ex-spouses currently have joint custody, neither parent comes to court with an advantage over the other, and a new custody decision that is based on the child’s best interests will be issued by the court.

Child custody and visitation disputes can generate plenty of tension and anxiety. Such disputes can make any parent emotionally exhausted. That’s natural because your child’s well-being is your most important priority. If you for some reason you need or want to move outside of your geographic area, or if your child’s other parent is requesting to do so, let an accomplished family lawyer that is seasoned and

knowledgeable regarding the relocation process in Dallas represent you and advocate on your behalf.

Nothing is more important than your children, At Williamson Law Firm, justice for our clients and their children is our top priority. We are the reliable, seasoned family law attorneys trusted by parents and families in the Dallas area and across North Texas for more than a quarter of a century. For help making a move-away request – or opposing a move-away request – call Williamson Law Firm. To schedule a consultation, call us at 469-385-3305 or complete the online contact form here on our website. When you become a client of Williamson Law Firm, we will not rest until your family law matter is justly and fairly resolved.