Out-of-State Relocation With Children: What You Can Learn From the Yates Case

A 32-year-old missing person’s case was resolved this past winter when the mother of two abducted girls was found in Houston, TX. The mother was seeking a divorce from the children’s father at the time of the disappearance back in 1985.

Lessons Learned About Moving With Your Children

While this is an extreme case of out-of-state relocation, it does shed light on what is and isn’t allowed when moving out-of-state with your child whether you are separated, divorced or have never been married.

  • Court approval is required. If the existing custody arrangement limits the custodial parent from moving outside of a specific geographic area, state law requires the parent who wishes to relocate to first seek a modification. The move cannot take place until the court approves it.
  • The move must be for a compelling reason. You cannot simply request relocation upon a whim. A compelling reason to move must exist for a court to consider it. Compelling reasons often involve job opportunities and moving closer to other family for increased support.
  • Parent approval not necessary. A court can approve a move-away request and custody modification from one parent without the express approval from the other parent.
  • The child’s best interest is what matters. As in any child custody situation, the best interests of the child are at the forefront. This means the court will assess the parent’s relocation request through the lens of whether it makes the best sense for the child. This includes evaluating schooling, health care, interaction with the other parent, and many other factors.

A Note About Domestic Violence

Subsequent reports involving the Yates case make allusions to domestic violence concerns and fear of backlash. Texas law clearly states that even one act of domestic violence can affect a parent’s visitation rights, and an abusive parent will not have possession rights to the child.

Considering a Child Relocation Request? Contact an Experienced Custody Lawyer.

If you have an existing child custody arrangement, you need to seek legal recourse to be able to relocate out of state. The process is not exactly straightforward. The need for a clear showing of a compelling reason should be enough for you to reach out to an experienced custody attorney who knows how to handle these cases.