Can a Parent with Primary Custody Move Out of Texas?

Our Houston Visitation Rights Lawyer Explains

Image of a MapDivorces are normally difficult for a family, but they can be even more troublesome when a parent moves outside of the family’s home state. Non-custodial parent visits become more time-consuming and expensive. A child may not get to see both of his or her parents as often as he or she would have if the parents remained in close proximity.

Non-custodial parents with visitation rights have recourse, however. Like most states, Texas has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) that determines what state has jurisdiction over a child custody and visitation rights order. The UCCJEA provides many benefits to parents with visitation rights. If your ex-spouse is considering moving to another state with your child or already has, a Houston family lawyer can help you ensure that the courts do not forget about your rights.
Interstate Visitation Rights under the UCCJEA

The UCCJEA has several important provisions for parents who are divorced and live in separate states. A Houston child visitation rights attorney can explain how these important provisions apply to you:

  • If a custodial parent plans to move, he or she must provide the other parent with at least 60 days notice of the move if it involves a move to another state or a move more than 100 miles away.
  • The UCCJEA uses the ‘home state’ doctrine. If the custodial parent takes the child to another state, that new state must enforce the Texas child custody and visitation rights order. In most cases, the Texas order will continue to be valid, and other states should enforce it as a Texas court decided it. Prosecutors and law enforcement in the state where a parent and child moved can take actions to enforce the original Texas order without the non-custodial parent having to travel to the new state.
  • If a parent seeks to modify a child custody and visitation rights order, he or she must do so in Texas, provided that a Texas court originally decided the order. This is a tremendous benefit over years ago, as parents can no longer move out of state as a means to delay or contest child custody and visitation rights orders. A parent with visitation rights can seek an order modification right in Texas, without having to travel to the state where the other parent and child now live.

In certain emergency situations, such as domestic violence or child abuse, the UCCJEA will enable a state to exercise emergency jurisdiction over the child custody and visitation rights order.

In order to enforce UCCJEA provisions in Texas, the parent with visitation rights must still reside in Texas (Texas courts cannot have jurisdiction if neither parent has contacts with the state anymore). To obtain the UCCJEA’s benefits, it is vital that a Texas court adjudicate a couple’s divorce decree and child custody and visitation rights. Without this order being decided in Texas, there is often a “race to the courts,” as one of the spouses attempts to have his or her preferred state determine child custody and visitation rights.

If you are involved in an interstate child custody and visitation rights dispute, contact a Houston visitation rights lawyer at John K. Grubb & Associates, PC to learn more about what you can do to protect your interests.

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