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Child custody and relocation

In Texas and all around the country, family law judges have to make hard decisions on what is in the best interests of children affected by divorce. Some of the most difficult may be those child custody situations in which a custodial parent is seeking to relocate along with the children. Whether it is an in-state move or one that would take a child halfway around the globe, move-away cases often result in one parent or the other suffering anguish.

States use different guidelines in determining these decisions, but in most it is the best interest of the child that is paramount. Which parent bears the burden of proof that moving away would be harmful or beneficial to the child depends on how permissive a particular state is in this regard. Considerations may include the need to maintain stability and continuity in the child's life, how long the existing custody order has been in effect, what ties the parents and children have to the community and the reason for the move.

Also important is the distance of the move, as a longer move will generally come under closer scrutiny. Courts additionally take into account the age of the child, acknowledging that very young children may suffer more from one parent being gone, no matter who does the relocating.

Regardless of the state, if it is determined that one of the reasons for the proposed relocation is to somehow punish the noncustodial parent by interfering with his or her relationship with the child, the court will likely not give its approval. A family law attorney may be able to assist a noncustodial parent in determining how to approach such a situation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "In the Child's Best Interest: What It Means in Move-Away Cases", Lisa Helfend Meyer , February 12, 2014

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