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Geographic Restriction

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2019 | Family Law related issues

A Texas family court has the power to impose a geographic restriction on the residence of a child when rendering a divorce, or child custody order.

What type of geographic restriction does a judge generally order?

In Williamson, Travis and surrounding counties most Judges want to impose a geographic restriction that will force the parties to live within a reasonable distance from the child based on the parenting plan ordered. Generally, the court will want the parties to reside as close to each other as possible. The more equal the parenting plan is regarding time of possession, the closer the court will want the parties to live to each other. Examples of common geographic restrictions are as follows: Williamson County, Williamson County and Counties Contiguous to Williamson County, or maybe Round Rock Independent School District. The geographic restriction may also be a certain distance from a school home or other location.

The parties may also agree to a specific geographic restriction.

Why do courts order geographic restrictions on the primary residence of the children?

For a variety of reasons, it makes sense for the court to impose a geographic restriction on the parents in a child custody case.

  1. Co-Parenting: It is easier for the parties to co-parent when both parties live near each other,
  2. Travel Time:   When parties live closer to each other it reduces the transportation burden on the parents and time travel for the child,
  3. Discourages problems: Older children may prefer to stay with the parent that lives closer to their friends, or their activities.

The court cannot order that the parties primarily live with both parties however, the parties can agree to neither parent home being the primary residence of the child so long as a geographic restriction is imposed.

What happens if a parent must relocate?

Divorce is, the gift that keeps on giving. Issues continue to arise even after the divorce has been finalized. Frequently, instability in work, career and education come with divorce and as a result so do relocations. The presumption under Texas law is that the parents should be joint managing conservators of the children. This creates a presumption that both parents should be involved in the children’s lives. The parenting plan will attempt to ensure that both parents are actively involved in the lives of their children.  Relocating is difficult task to manage. Courts typically do not want the child to move away from the other parent. The courts typically want stability for the child. This means the court would prefer the child stay at the same school rather than moving from school to school. In fact, non-custodial parents use frequent moves as a basis for material and substantial change to obtain the right to determine the primary residence of the child on a regular basis.

What should I do if I am required to relocate, but the primary residence of my child is geographically restricted?

If the parenting plan in your final decree of divorce or child custody order has a geographic restriction, and the non-custodial parent does not agree with your relocation, you will be required to file a modification lawsuit to attempt to remove the geographic restriction. Modifications are difficult, and the court is going to be focused on the best interest of the child, and not necessarily your career.  Williamson County courts and most courts in general do not generally allow on one parent to relocate with a child. The courts decision will rest on the facts, circumstances, and issues of your case. Often the court will require the moving party to cover the costs of transporting the child. This should be considered when deciding to file this lawsuit.

Consider your children and your financial situation prior to filing a lawsuit to modify the geographic restriction. This is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Clifford Swayze is committed to his clients and advocating for their well-being. In addition, to helping clients with divorce and family law matters, Clifford Swayze is an experienced and skilled child custody lawyer practicing in the following communities in and around Round Rock, and Williamson County, Texas:

Cedar Park, Round Rock, Leander, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, Hutto, Taylor, Killeen, Temple, Coppers Cove and Austin.