Relocation & Divorce

San Antonio Divorce Lawyer Kathy Orr Explains How Relocation Can be Limited During or After a Divorce.

American families are on the move, whether across town or across the country families move daily. However, if the parents of the children are divorced special issues arise when a move is contemplated. When a divorce is granted some orders will restrict the custodial parent to a limited geographical area, other orders do not restrict the custodial parent, but with either type of order, issues may arise when the idea of moving the children is broached.

It is the public policy of Texas, as laid out in the Texas Family Code Section 153.001 to “assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child; provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and encourage parents to share the rights and duties of raising their child after their parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.”  

The Texas Family Code Section 153.002 states that “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”

So these issues need to be addressed as what is in the best interests of the child, not what is best for either parent. If the parents of the child live further apart it becomes more difficult for the non-custodial parent to have sufficient time with the child to maintain a strong and stable relationship with the child.

This does not mean that the custodial parent can never move with the child but it does frequently bring the issue to the attention of the court. This issue has been addressed by the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Lenz v. Lenz (2002). In this particular case the Lenz family was from Germany but living in Texas when they divorced. Ms. Lenz wanted to return to Germany with the children and the issued eventually was heard by the Texas Supreme Court. After the case was finally concluded Ms. Lenz was allowed to return with the children to Germany.

This case gave some direction to District Court on how to make the decision of whether to allow the children to move. The factors that were listed to be considered include:

1. Continued presence of German culture in the children’s lives,
2. Importance of maintaining their cultural identity,
3. Presence of extended family in Germany,
4. Presence of friends in Germany,
5. Better employment opportunities for custodial parent,
6. Potential for improved financial situation for custodial parent,
7. Potential for improvement of custodial parent’s emotional and mental state,
8. Ability of non-custodial parent to relocate,
9. Ability of non-custodial to arrange a work schedule that would allow him regular visitation if he chose not to relocate, and
10. Willingness of custodial parent to arrange visitation with non-custodial parent whenever possible.

Whether the initial order allows the move or not, it is likely that when a move is contemplated the parents will once again find themselves in a court to determine this issue. If you need help in this area, please call me at (210) 224-8881 so I can discuss your options with you.