I divorced my husband two year ago, and we have shared custody of our two kids. I want to move to Tennessee. Can I take the kids with me?

The short answer is “No.”  If you and your husband share joint custody of the children, you cannot just pick up your kids and leave, even if you are the custodial parent. If your ex-husband does not want you to leave the state, it is advised that you seek legal counsel with a Houston child custody lawyer as your case is not a simple one.

In most cases, initial custody orders prohibit the primary parent from moving outside of a specific area (usually the child’s current county of residence plus any contiguous counties). Therefore, when parents want to move out of state with their children, they need to get a court order allowing them to do so; they can’t just pick up and leave.

Even if you have an older order (or agreement) that doesn’t restrict your child’s residence to a particular area, you still need to give your ex-husband notice if you intend to move with the children. If your ex-husband wants to stop you from moving, he may file an application for a temporary restraining order which prevents you from moving until a court can hold a relocation hearing.

At the hearing, you’ll have to show compelling reasons for the proposed move, which may include a job relocation (if you can’t find comparable work locally), or a relocation to be closer to family, who will help support and care for the child. If the court suspects that you’re moving to interfere with the child’s relationship with your ex-husband, you will not be allowed to go.

Courts in Texas typically award divorcing parents “joint managing conservatorship” (referred to as “joint legal custody” in some states) over their child. This means the parents will share the right to make important decisions about their child’s life, including where the child will live.  In cases involving domestic violence or abuse the court may award physical and legal custody to one parent alone (sole conservator.

Note:  If your child does move to a state other than where their custody case was decided, it is possible that the state with jurisdiction over your child custody case may also change. For example, if the children move away, yet maintain a strong connection to the original home state of the custody case, (by frequently visiting their non-custodial parent in that state), that state retains jurisdiction.  If both parents move to states other than the original home state of the custody case, the new state of residence of the children becomes the one with jurisdiction over the case.

Once again, child custody questions in Texas can be complex and far reaching. You need the expertise of the team at LaFour Law to navigate these waters.  Reach them today at www.lafourlaw.com or 713.223.7700 to schedule a private consultation.