Houston Interstate Custody Attorneys
The freedom to travel from state to state is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. What this means is that, as American citizens, we can generally go to any state we like without the government being involved. But this right may be limited when there is a custody order in place following a divorce or other judicial action. In Texas, the courts may require that parents with either sole or joint custody over a child take certain steps before removing a child from the state, and a judge may in fact prevent a parent from doing so altogether.
If you are a custodial parent seeking to take a child out of the state, or if another parent is planning to or has already taken your child out of state, Houston interstate custody attorneys at Conner & Lindamood can help you to take the proper legal actions to ensure that you are complying with the law and that your interests and the child’s interests are being protected.
Texas Rules Regarding Interstate Custody
When a judge determines custody in a divorce matter, he or she will decree a judgment that lays out the terms that the parents are required to adhere to with regard to their relationship with the child. While the word “custody” is often used, the court will literally refer to aspects of this arrangement as a Joint Managing Conservatorship (in which both parents share decision-making authority over the child) and a Possessory Conservatorship, which is the right of one or both parents to have the child live with that parent. The possessory conservatorship is awarded through a Standard Possessory Order (SPO). If both parents are awarded a possessory conservatorship, then the SPO will state what times and days that each parent is entitled to have the child with them.
The SPO in many cases will also contain a Geographic Restriction. This limits the ability of the possessing parent to take the child permanently (meaning anything more than a temporary visit) out of a certain geographic area. The geographic restriction might be limited to a county, a cluster of counties, or even a wider area such as the state.
Going to Court to Enforce or Lift a Geographic Restriction
If there is a geographic restriction in place, then a parent cannot permanently take the child out of the specified area without going to court to get the restriction lifted. A parent should not assume that an agreement with the other parent outside of court will lift the restriction. Even if such an agreement exists, the court can find that parent in contempt of the SPO, especially if the other parent changes his or her mind and goes to court to enforce the restriction.
Lifting the restriction in court is possible if the court determines that doing so would be in the best interests of the child, which is a determination involving a number of factors concerning the child’s welfare. The family law attorneys at Conner & Lindamood have years of experience in working with custodial and noncustodial parents in going to court to either enforce SPOs or to lift geographic restrictions. We are dedicated to fighting for our clients and the interests of their children, and will pursue all available remedies to honor those interests.
For further information on how a relocation or move-away affects a visitation order, see here.
Contact a Houston Interstate Custody Lawyer
If you or a former spouse are planning on or have moved out of state, work with a family law attorney to determine how this affects your custody order and what rights are available. Contact one of our Houston interstate custody attorneys today at 713-489-2551 in Houston or 281-942-6475 in League City(by appointment only). Conner & Lindamood serves a large part of southeast Texas, including Galveston, Houston and Harris counties.