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How does relocation affect a Texas child custody agreement?

Starting over with a clean slate is important to some Houston ex-spouses. Sometimes, putting a lot of physical distance between you and an ex is part of that plan. However, divorcing parents cannot pick up and move without considering the boundaries of child custody and visitation agreements.

A divorced parent may wish to relocate with a minor child for a new job opportunity. The other parent may be concerned the move will complicate visitations and jeopardize a close parent-child relationship. Texas courts view the situation according to the child's best interests.

Some parents fear an ex-spouse will try to "shop" for better child custody terms in out-of-state courts. The Texas Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and statutes like it in most other states, ensure custody agreements and judicial orders remain intact from state to state. The law sets down rules that require states to honor original custody determinations.

There are instances when out-of-state courts may make rulings that override existing custody arrangements. A court in the child's home state can make a custody judgment. A home state isn't necessarily the state in which a child resides.

A state also has the right to decide custody matters when the child has solid links to people and a community in that state. This may include strong relationships with people other than relatives like teachers, healthcare professionals and friends.

Sometimes, parents flee with a child in violation of a custody agreement or order to protect the child from harm. A state may intervene in custody matters when a real fear for the child's security is shown.

These sensitive issues can be discussed with a family law attorney, whether you are contemplating relocation or worried an ex will move across state lines. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you know or suspect an ex has already violated a custody order or agreement.

Source: FindLaw, "Interstate Custody Arrangements" Oct. 29, 2014

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