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Parental Relocation: Laws and Requirements in Plano, Texas

When a parent with a child or children wishes to move out of their current location, it is known as parental relocation. This can often be a complex matter, especially when it involves legal issues that have to be taken into account. Knowing the laws and requirements surrounding parental relocation is paramount for any parent who wants to move while ensuring that they remain within the letter of the law.

Understanding Parental Relocation in Texas

Before considering parental relocation, it is essential to understand precisely what it is. Parental relocation refers to a parent moving a child's residence either within the state or outside it. It is essential to bear in mind that this can impact the other parent's custodial rights, visitation, and other legal rights and obligations. The situation can be complicated, which is why it is essential to seek legal advice if you plan to relocate with your child.

What is Parental Relocation?

Parental relocation refers to a parent physically moving a child from one residence to another. This move could be in the state or out of state. In Texas, the parent intending to relocate is usually the custodial parent. It is important to note that the relocation can impact the other parent's custodial rights, visitation schedule, and other legal rights and obligations.

For example, if the non-custodial parent has visitation rights every other weekend, the relocation could make it difficult or impossible for the child to spend time with that parent. In such cases, the non-custodial parent may need to seek a modification of the custody and visitation order.

Reasons for Parental Relocation

A parent may have many reasons for wanting to relocate either in or outside Texas. It could be due to work, education, a desire to be closer to family, or for health and safety reasons. Whatever the reason, it is essential to keep in mind that such a move can significantly impact the child's life, the other parent's relationship with the child, and the non-custodial parent's visitation rights.

For example, if the parent is relocating for a job, the child may need to change schools, make new friends, and adjust to a new environment. This can be stressful for the child, and the non-custodial parent may need to work harder to maintain a relationship with the child despite the distance.

Texas Family Code on Parental Relocation

According to the Texas Family Code, specific rules must be followed when a parent wishes to relocate with a child. The custodial parent (the parent with whom the child primarily resides) must give the non-custodial parent notice of the proposed relocation. The notice must include the following information:

  • The intended date of the move
  • The address of the new residence
  • The reason for the move
  • A statement that the non-custodial parent has the right to file a petition to modify the custody order

The non-custodial parent then has the right to file a petition to modify the custody order within 30 days of receiving the notice. If the non-custodial parent does not file a petition within 30 days, the court may presume that the relocation is in the child's best interest and approve it.

If the non-custodial parent does file a petition, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether the relocation is in the child's best interest. The court will consider various factors, including the reasons for the move, the child's relationship with each parent, the child's age and needs, and the impact of the move on the child's education and social life.

It is important to note that parental relocation cases can be complex and emotional. If you are considering relocating with your child or are facing a potential relocation by the other parent, it is essential to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

Factors Courts Consider in Parental Relocation Cases

When making a decision about parental relocation, many factors are taken into account. They include:

Best Interests of the Child

The court always strives to make decisions based on the best interests of the child. In a parental relocation case, the court must consider the child's emotional, physical, and developmental well-being.

Distance of the Move

Usually, the farther the child moves away from the non-custodial parent, the more significant the impact on visitation rights. The court will need to consider how much the proposed move will affect the non-custodial parent's visitation rights before making a ruling.

Impact on the Non-Custodial Parent's Visitation Rights

The court will also consider how the move will impact the non-custodial parent's visitation rights or whether the relocation may make visitation virtually impossible.

Child's Relationship with Both Parents

The court will need to determine how the proposed move will impact the child's relationship with both parents. This factor will be highly considered when making a decision concerning parental relocation.

Legal Requirements for Parental Relocation in Plano, Texas Notifying the Non-Custodial Parent

Before a moving parent can relocate to a new city or state, proper notice must be given to the non-custodial parent. The notice should include information like the intended move date, the new location address, and contact information.

Obtaining Court Approval

Unless the non-custodial parent agrees to the relocation terms, the relocating parent must seek court approval. To obtain court approval, the parent must provide legitimate reasons for wishing to relocate a child, and the court will schedule a hearing to allow both parents to present their case.

Modifying Existing Custody and Visitation Orders

When the court approves a parental relocation, it will be necessary to modify any existing custody orders and visitation schedules. This can include changes in transportation or a reduction/increase in visitation times.

Potential Consequences of Unlawful Parental Relocation

When a parent violates the laws and requirements for parental relocation, there are potential consequences to bear in mind:

Contempt of Court

This occurs when a parent violates a court order, such as interfering with the other parent's visitation rights or violating any other court order that concerns the child in question. Such a violation is a serious offense, and the court may impose fines, jail time, or community service if found guilty of contempt.

Loss of Custody or Visitation Rights

If a parent moves a child to another location without permission, the court may sanction it by reducing or even terminating their custodial rights and visitation.

Criminal Charges

Depending on the severity of the offense, there may be criminal charges for unlawful parental relocation. These charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the circumstances.


Parental relocation can be a complex and emotive issue that requires careful consideration. Any parent who wishes to relocate with their child must follow the laws and requirements laid out in the Texas Family Code. Failure to do so can result in severe legal and personal consequences. It is essential to seek legal advice to ensure that the rights and interests of all parties involved are taken into account.

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