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Can your ex-spouse just move away with the kids?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2021 | Child Custody |

As a divorced parent in Texas, you no doubt have concerns about maintaining a consistent presence in your kids’ lives while having to share custody with your ex-spouse. That concern no doubt compounds if your ex-spouse declares their intention to move away (and take the kids with them).

Can they do that? Some might say that your ex-spouse has the right to determine their own residence (as well as the kids’ primary residence if they are the kids’ managing conservator). Yet state courts appreciate the benefit your kids experience having the support of both parents in their lives. Thus, you do have recourse should a relocation threaten your custody or visitation.

Understanding the UCCJEA

Many states have specific statutes that address the issue of parental relocation. Texas, however, ranks among the few states that does not. Rather, the state follows the guidelines set by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a federal statute meant to address the potential of parents abducting their children to other states in hopes of obtaining a more favorable custody ruling. Per this statute, a state does not have jurisdiction to rule on a custody case unless it meets certain criteria for qualifying as a child’s “home state” (such as living there for a certain period of time or having established relationships with other residents).

Modifying your custody agreement due to a relocation

Given these parameters, there are certain requirements your ex-spouse must follow if they want to move with the kids. This includes giving you notice of their intention at least 60 days prior to their. You then have the chance to petition the court to review your custody agreement and make modifications that do not place an undue burden on you to maintain your contact with the kids.