For many parents, one of the hardest things about going through a divorce is seeing less of the children. Losing out on precious time with your kids on holidays, birthdays or just mundane school days can be heartbreaking for a parent. The thought of seeing even less of them if your ex moves back home to another state is devastating. You may feel like you have no control, especially if your spouse has temporary custody before you go to court.
Thankfully, Texas law protects the rights of both parents. Unless there is a history of abuse, the courts typically prefer shared custody arrangements. Other issues, like unstable living situations or addiction, could also impact how the courts approach custody decisions and enforcement of parental rights. In general, sharing parental responsibilities and limiting the impact of the divorce on the children usually means staying in the same area.
Custody and living situations should focus on the children's needs
The courts use the best interests of the children as the guiding principle when deciding on critical custody matters in a divorce. Except in cases of abuse, neglect or inability, that typically means supporting ongoing relationships with both parents.
The courts may weigh in on a variety of topics that impact custody, including how to handle the marital home and issues of child or spousal support. All of these decisions focus on doing what is best for the children, which often means minimizing disruption to their lives. Moving to a new state would not only cut off their relationship with one of their parents, it would completely remove their social support network of peers and nearby family.
The courts needs to approve any out-of-state move
Sharing custody and decision-making authority with your ex means that your ex can't simply pack up and leave. That would deprive you and your children of a healthy relationship and the ability to see one another regularly. The courts may actually outline a limited area, based on county or distance from the marital home, where the children can live to ensure both parents can see the children regularly.
If your ex wants to move farther away that what is outlined in your divorce documents, the courts have to approve. Your former spouse will need to provide a compelling reason to the courts why the move is necessary and in the best interest of the children. Depending on your situation, the courts may refuse to allow such a move. If your ex goes without court approval, your situation may become a case of parental abduction.
It's important to remain calm and focused on the children if your ex wants to move out of state with your children after a divorce. However, it is also important to assert your rights as a parent. If civil discussion fails to resolve the matter, you may need to ask the courts to intervene to prevent a move that would alienate you from your children.