Laws on Moving Out of Texas During a Divorce
By Jim Thomas
If you don't have children, moving out of Texas during your divorce proceedings might be an inconvenience, but it isn't against the law. However, if you have children and relocate with them out of state without the court's approval, you're in big trouble. Even if you are the custodial parent, you cannot move your children to another state unless the family court grants you permission to do so.
Texas' Family Code regulates the possession of and access to the children of a divorcing couple. It is the public policy of Texas to "assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact" with both parents. Additionally, parents are expected to provide a "safe, stable, and nonviolent" home for the child and are encouraged "to share in the rights and duties of raising their child" after the divorce. Texas focuses on the best interest of the child in cases involving custody, possession and access to your children.
Texas encourages frequent and regular contact between children and both parents. If the non-custodial parent lives in a particular area, such as a city or county, there is a legal presumption that the children should live in the same area. As a result, if the custodial parent wants to move to California or North Carolina, for example, she must have valid grounds for relocating in order to overcome the presumption against relocation.
Reasons for Relocating
A parent who wants to relocate needs to demonstrate to the court that it is in the best interests of the child to do so. A new job in another state, the presence of extended family in another state or military service might make moving a necessity, but Texas requires the parent to demonstrate the child will benefit as well as the parent.
If your temporary order or divorce degree contains a restriction against moving out of the area or state, you might be subject to severe penalties. The other parent can file a writ of habeas corpus, commanding you to bring the children back into the area and require your appearance before the court. Furthermore, relocating without permission might result in loss of custody. You also might be found in contempt for violating a court order, which can result in fines and jail time.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.