There’s No Place like Home – Residence Restrictions

When parents separate or divorce, it will likely mean that at least one parent will have to make a new home for themselves and the children. Where the parent's respective homes will be can cause some conflict over determining what locale the children will reside. Courts have contemplated this issue and come up with ways to address it in their decisions on cases.

First, we must determine what the issue is we are talking about when we know parents will separate. Usually, one of the parents in a divorce case or a case involving custody will be designated as the parent with the right to determine the children’s primary residence. With this determination can come some restrictions on the children’s future residence, specifically the geographical boundaries the children will have to reside in with the custodial parent.

When a case is pending before the court, usually there will be standing orders in place which state that neither parent can remove the children from the State of Texas for the purpose of changing their primary residence. Thus, while litigation is going on, the children usually have to remain in Texas, unless the parties have agreed otherwise or the court has made specific orders to the contrary.

Once a case does reach a final resolution, the court can impose a residence restriction on the parent with custody on a final basis. A typical restriction would be a geographical limitation on the parent with custody to Denton County and contiguous counties if the case was in Denton County. So, the parent with custody would have to reside with the children in Denton County or any county touching Denton County on a map. This limitation is designed to allow the parent without custody to remain in close contact with the children in the future without having to travel long distances for possession and access.

For some parents, this limitation can pose a problem when they want to move outside of the restrictive area either at the time of the divorce or custody case or in a later modification suit. A parent desiring not to have this limitation will need to show good reasons to the court why allowing a long-distance move with the children is in their best interests. A few examples of valid reasons would be lack of involvement of the other parent in the children’s lives, need for financial reliance on those in another location, or prior plans to move with the children that the other parent was either aware of or previously consented to.

When dealing with residence restrictions, a parent should be mindful of the limitations they place on them and the possibility that the court will order one in a final order or decree. If you as a parent desire to move out of the general restrictive area, you will need to discuss this with your attorney and come up with a strategy for presenting this issue to the court. There are many reasons why a parent would want to move away with the children, but the weight that the court will place on a particular justification will need to be properly assessed by your attorney.

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