Residency Restriction in Texas

One of the most common issues that arise in family law matters is the residency restriction the Courts in Texas impose.

Today I wanted to offer a few notes or tips on the residency restriction in Texas. A residency restriction is a court imposed limitation on where the CHILD can live. You notice that I said child. The Court cannot tell the adults where they can and cannot live, but they can limit the residence of the child. Obviously, if you are the parent with custody of the child and the court limits the residence of the child, then your residence has been effectively limited too. Your option is to stay put or let the child live with the non-custodial parent.

The state legislature has said that they want to promote the relationship between the parent who does not have custody of the child and that child. The way they accomplish this is by assuring that there is frequent contact, i.e. a residency restriction.

The Courts have determined that in Texas a residency restriction can be as large as the state or as small as a neighborhood or school district. The size of the geographical area is within the court’s discretion subject to the facts that they hear at trial. In Collin County (Plano) and Dallas County the courts will typically impose the Dallas and contiguous counties (counties touching Dallas) or the Collin and contiguous counties language by default. That can be changed with the proper facts.

There is one simple way to have a residency restriction put in place if you are not the one with custody of the child, and that is to stay active in the child’s life. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen cases where my client wants a residency restriction but has not been active in the child’s life. I think sometimes it is simply a control issue. If you want a residency restriction in Texas, you need to show that you are active in the child’s life. That can mean simply exercising the visitation that you have been awarded or attending extracurricular activities. Attend some parent-teacher conferences, take the child to the doctor occasionally. You get the point.

If you are active in the child’s life then the court will protect your interests because that is the “policy” of the State of Texas.

The things listed above also apply to parents who want to remove the residency restriction in Texas. If the parent without custody is active in the child’s life, then chances are good that the court will not lift the restriction. However, if there is not active involvement, and the parent wishing to move has a good reason, chances are good that the court will lift that residency restriction.

The moral to this story is simple, stay involved in your child’s life or suffer the consequences when a parent wants to move out of state.

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53 Responses to Residency Restriction in Texas

  1. anonymous October 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    I have a question regarding geographic restriction. Although my husband has been divorced from his ex for several years the custody issue has been never ending between them. Finally my husband and his ex decided to settle their custody agreement via mediation in April of this year. At that time his ex was currently engaged to a man in the military. And at that time his ex agreed to a geographic restriction to keep the children within about a 200 mile radius of the courthouse where we live. They currently live in Killeen and my husband and I live in Northeast Texas in Winnsboro, about a 200 mile distance. Even though they settled in mediation back in April her lawyer has yet to push the agreement through and have it finalized. My husband and his ex both signed during mediation, then my husband got a copy of the final orders about a month or so later which he signed and mailed back to her lawyer, his ex informed us that she received it and signed it but from my understanding her lawyer has not pushed it through to the judge to “finalize” it. We recently discovered why that was. His ex recently contacted my husband and wants him to agree to allow her to move out of state IF her now husband were to ever get PCS orders. She states that she has come up with a fair compromise and threatens it would be a better deal than a judge would order. My husband and I have been active in his children’s lives, we have gotten them for every visitation we are allowed, we are even allowed to have them for their entire summer break which we took advantage of, my husband speaks to them on the phone regularly and has been in contact with their teachers to keep up on how they are doing in school. We think she is trying to bully my husband into an agreement because we believe she thinks we won’t have a lawyer to back us up if she were to take us to court over it. We didn’t take a lawyer to mediation because at the time we were bled dry from all the other recent court appearances. That’s no longer the case and we could provide a lawyer at this time if necessary. We both feel she doesn’t have a leg to stand on but we want a professionals opinion. Can she even take us to court given the info provided? Do we have anything to worry about if she can and does decide to take us to court? Does she have any backing to get the geo restriction lifted if we go to court, again? Does the fact that the custody order has never been “finalized” make a difference? Any advice you can offer would be truly helpful. Thank you for your time.

  2. Chris Schmiedeke October 6, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    It sounds as if you have a current case pending. Whatever order is in place in that case is controlling on what she can and cannot do. She is going to have a difficult time getting what she wants when the mediated settlement agreement (which is binding) is still outstanding and has not been entered by the Court.

    This is a very technical issue. It sounds as if you can afford an attorney now. I would suggest you get one. They will be better able to advise you in person of your rights.

    Good luck.

  3. Cathy November 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    My ex and I have joint custody, though my decree only restricts my children’s residency to the state of Texas. I moved to a new city and school district 2.5 years ago, right after my divorce and sale of my home in the city where we lived together. I am contemplating another move for reasons that include finding a better school district and more convenience for the things my children and I do together. Can he stop me from moving? I have always been scared of him retaliating, and have therefore not enforced the decree, including visitation, or child support. I am very concerned about what he can legally do if I choose to move, let alone what he just may do to spite me. Thank you.

  4. Anonymous December 6, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

    First let me thank you for this post. I however have questions about this. I have a friend who’s divorce started out seemingly civil and quickly desintergrated from there into nastiness (more so from her ex and his family than her). It took them over a year to finally make their first court date due to his postponing it. He is active military with his Residency in Texas. My friend has maintained custody of their 3 year old since birth. There was infidelity which is assure her has nothing to do with her as a mother. However she has told her attorney that with him stationed in FL and her only family being her mother and brother, both of whom she rarely sees are in to, that the rest of her family is in Ca along woth her BF’s family. The life they can provide monetarily and especially in education is much better. Can her force a restriction on the child out of spite even if it’s better for him elsewhere? The father is barely around, contacts 3 times a week and has no regard for how his son is any other time. When he does deal with my friend it is constant threats over property of emotional abuse. I want to give her peace of mind that the hell she is enduring does have a positive light. She has been the bigger person always, much to my surprise cause I couldn’t do it, and has always done what’s right for her child. Please tell me she should possibly be ok to come home to her family. Thank you.

  5. Chris Schmiedeke December 7, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Your friend needs to talk to a lawyer and assess her chances of success with them. I will say that in a case where a parent is not involved much, the chances are better to lift the residency restriction. However, there are so many factors to consider. That is why she needs to talk to an attorney.

  6. Anne Burke December 11, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    My 17 year old daughter refuses to spend weekends and holidays with her dad as required in our decree. We both live in Houston. I encourage her to see him as scheduled, but I don’t punish her if she doesn’t. Am I suppose to force her? She does see him occasionally for dinner.

  7. Chris Schmiedeke December 16, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    There is no easy answer to this question. Do the best you can. If you want a more definitive answer, talk to an attorney who knows the practices of your judge. That judge may have a known policy in these types of situations. Good luck.

  8. Karla December 29, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    Hi Chris, a quick question. I live in Dallas. My divorce was finalized nearly 7 years ago. We have 2 children, ages 9 and 10. The final decree says on the geographic limitation line, “50 miles, mother is primary” and is signed by the judge. My ex husband was not in our lives for several years. He resurfaced 3 years ago and is living in Tulsa.

    I tried to make it work with him so he could have a relationship with the kids, and was driving 1/2 way to take them and pick them up every other weekend for around 2 years. It became too costly for me and my car starting to age. I don’t feel comfortable or safe to be driving that far any more. (he does not provide any financial support) as well as stressful to be travelling that much ( nearly 12 hours in the car every other weekend).

    So – I advised him that I do not agree to this modified agreement any more – and that I wish to follow the order (he picks up and drops off kids per our court signed standard order) and that I am placing the kids in extra circulars so on Saturdays he would need to drop off and pickup from their activities.

    It has been more than 3 months now and he has yet to show up to pick them up – and is sending me daily text messages that i am withholding the children and he is going to sue me and take them away from me. Am I in the wrong here? We are home at the dates and times the order prescribes as his access times however he never shows up.

  9. Chris Schmiedeke January 4, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    You are required to provide the children at the dates and times provided in the order. Y’all are free to modify that by written agreement. If you revoked your agreement, make sure it is in writing. As long as you are meeting the requirements of the order, you should be fine based upon what you are telling me.

    It is always a good idea to have an attorney review your paperwork to make sure it reads the way you think it reads.

    Good luck to you.

  10. Anonymous January 7, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Can my ex stop me from moving within my restrictions, if it is to another city and school district? My residency is limited to “Texas,” and I am contemplating a move, but I have heard from some that he can stop me from moving, even if it is within my residency restriction. He has been involved with our children and attends school functions, etc. However, I rent a home and do not prefer to buy in this area. I am contemplating moving about 30 minutes further out, which would be an hour from him. Can he stop me?

  11. Stephan January 8, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Very informative thread! I also have a question and hope you have an opportunity to chime in. In my decree, my daughter is restricted to Montgomery County and it’s surrounding counties. My ex just last month bullied me into a modification out of court that states that my daughter is at an age to where she can basically choose when she wants to see me. She knows I don’t have the money to hire an attorney again and had her attorney send me orders to sign and agree or go to mediation then court if necessary. I felt as if I was in a dammed if I do, dammed if I don’t situation because my daughter, who is 15, was wanting this as well because it “interfered” with her social life more or less. NOW my ex is sending me emails requesting yet ANOTHER modification, but this time she is wanting me to lift the geographical restriction so that she can move to Wimberley which is almost 4 hours away! I live 10 minutes away right now. My ex up and quit her job of 9 years a few months ago and she is currently living with a boyfriend who apparently will not be retained at his currently job, so they have decided to move. I throw that info out there because the move is solely based on the fact that that is the area she has always wanted to live in (married 14 years…always talked about it), she has a few aunts and uncles there and her parents have talked about retiring to that area. This is not because either of them is being transferred for their jobs or have a better opportunity, they just want to move there. She has a high priced Houston attorney and knows that typically if she pushes enough that I will cave because I don’t really have the funds to keep fighting her. My questions are, is it possible that she can get what we already agreed upon lifted, if I have to obtain an attorney to fight this, what are the chances that I would be awarded my attorney fees? I just don’t understand what the point of having a decree is if you can just keep going back and change it when you no longer like an aspect of it. I already fought this fight once, I shouldn’t have to retain an attorney to fight it again, but I don’t want my daughters moved that far away either, so I feel as if I have no alternative. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you!

  12. Stephan January 8, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

    Ugh…I apologize for the grammatical errors in my post. Proof positive that it pays to go back and check your work! Lol…that’s what my 5th grade Language Arts teacher was referring to.

  13. Chris Schmiedeke January 9, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    Stephan, I am sorry to hear this story. I see this ALL the time. Unfortunately it is difficult for me to answer your questions because there are so many unknowns, but I can relate my experiences in Dallas and Collin county regarding residency restrictions and my judges up here. I typically find that it requires quite a bit of evidence to get a residency restriction lifted if the non-moving parent is actively involved with the child. Wanting to live some where, or thinking it would be cool is not enough. I have had difficult times lifting restrictions and my clients have had jobs to go to! It is a hard burden to meet.

    From you fact scenario, the one thing that concerns me is the prior modification to allow the child to choose the visits. If that has meant that you have now seen the child less for some reason, or are less involved, it seems that may weigh against you. The argument being, if you are not seeing her much close by, what difference does it make if she is a few hours away.

    Don’t get discouraged though. From the facts you have shared, it sounds as if you have a pretty good case. Don’t let the “high price lawyer” thing scare you. No matter how high price they are, they cannot change the facts. If I had a nickel for every one of my clients who was concerned about the “high price lawyer” on the other side, that ultimately achieved nothing because the facts were bad for them, I would be retired by now.

    My advise is the contact an attorney or attorneys and find one that you are comfortable with. Discuss with them the aggressive pursuit attorney fees from the get go. Not at the final trial, from the very filing of the case. If they can show the court that the other side is strong arming you financially, meaning making it too expensive for you to even maintain a defense, they may help you out. Shop around for that attorney. Find someone that knows the judge or is on the “inside” with the Courts. That can go a long ways.

    Good luck to you. I hope it all works out.

  14. Chris Schmiedeke January 9, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    Make sure that you follow the rules in the order regarding notice provisions first and foremost. You are allowed to move right now if that is your restriction, but you must follow any notice procedures in your order.

    Can he file and try to stop you? Yes he can. But understand that you are not the one seeking the modification of the order, he is. That means HE has to prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the entry of the order. If he was an involved father then, and is an involved father now, what is the change? You get my point? If he knew he was an involved father then, then he should not have agreed to the Texas residency restriction.

    I hope this helps. You really should talk to an attorney in your area so that they can review your order and confirm what is in there. They can also help advise you on what to do if he files something. Good luck.

  15. Pam January 16, 2016 at 8:10 am #

    My daughter received custody at temporary hearing in Dallas county of the 2 year old. At the final hearing the judge gives custody to the father. The was no factual evidence that would support this change. My daughter has a 7 year old son she has raised from birth and has always had custody of him. The father prior to final hearing began an intimate relationship with female worker at the daycare which they hid the relationship from my daughter and used the daycare the girlfriend as witness. Ultimately I believe this is a conflict of interest. We have been waiting since end of September for his attorney to provide final custody papers to sign. I understand the papers should have been filed 30 days after the hearing. How do you get that enforced? Also the temporary orders stated as mother with custody and residency in Ellis co and father residence in Dallas co. The father moved to Johnson county begin of January, there are no final orders filed, the temp orders have daughter as primary parent but the handwritten orders from judge at final hearing have father as primary , how can the father move ? And what can be filed to make him return to Dallas county? What is material or substantial evidence mean, please give examples. An other issue, in October the girlfriend instigated a scheme at the daycare and had a cop waiting at daycare when my daughter stopped by to see child, the cop told my daughter she was trespassing and couldn’t go past the front desk, she was not allowed to go into child’s classroom. Now my daughter has to wait for someone to bring child to her, she is not allowed to attend any classroom activities or programs. All because the girlfriend and father are using the daycare as a shield to keep the mother from being involved in any activities. There were no charges places on my daughter this is just a tactic they are used to keep her away from child. What can be done about this?

  16. Anonymous January 26, 2016 at 11:12 am #

    My ex and I were both in the Dallas area. We were both planning to move (we had already verbally agreed on extra parenting time for him, me paying travel costs, etc) then 10 days before I moved, he filed to have a geographical restriction placed since his circumstances changed and couldn’t move. Will a judge make me move back to Dallas county or give up custody to him? I moved almost 2 months ago, which was 2 months after we had the verbal agreement. Note: Our divorce was not finalized in the state of Texas so there is no current GR, we have 2 teenage daughters together, and I moved 3 hours away to care for a dying parent

  17. Chris Schmiedeke January 26, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    There are just too many questions about this to give you any kind of effective answer. There are jurisdictional issues, etc… However, a short answer to the question would be that yes, a judge could enter an order requiring you to move back. That doesn’t mean they will, just that they could. You really need to let someone see the paperwork and see what is going on. Let me know if I can help.

  18. Mandy February 9, 2016 at 1:01 am #

    I’m hoping you might be able to help me understand my case a little better. Currently, I live in Tarrant County with my 10 year old son and we have been here for 2.5 years. When my ex and I divorced we were living in Wichita County and that is where the case was heard. Long story short, I was allowed to move no more than 150 miles away from Wichita County if I agreed to give up 60% of the ordered child support each month, cover all health insurance premiums, give up every Thanksgiving and Spring Break, and still continue to exchange our son every other weekend. I have been carrying out that system since we moved here, and for the record we relocated because I am a certified pediatric nurse and was offered a position with Cook Children’s Hospital. My court orders are not as specific as some of the orders I have seen from other couples and it only talks about how if my ex were to move within 100 miles of my location that we would resort back to the previous orders that were in the temporary hearing and his child support would go back up to 100%, he would have every Thursday night, and we would alternate Thanksgiving and Spring Break.

    My ex is remarried now and he called me this evening to tell me that he is going down to the Houston area for a job interview and that if he is hired that he and his new wife will relocate to that area. His new wife’s family lives in Houston which is why I suspect he is even looking for a job in that area. Houston is also about 4 hours away from here rather than the 1.5 to Wichita. My ex and I would meet in Decatur every other weekend and exchange our son and that was a reasonable meeting place. During our conversation, he had asked me how we would work out getting our son back and forth and I didn’t have an answer. The lifestyle I have been providing for my son has been very strict and non-flexible considering I work 12 hours shifts full time and I spend my days off participating in school and extracurricular activities with my son such as Boy Scouts. I’m also a full time graduate student. Trying to find the time and the resources to have to be forced to drive 2.5 hours each way to get him to his dads in Houston would be an incredible strain on me and my finances.

    I have two friends that have standard agreements with geographic restrictions and in their papers it states that if the non-custodial parent moves outside of the custodial parent’s restricted area that the restriction is lifted and the custodial parent no longer has to abide by it. My orders do not specify any of that and I feel like because it was handled in mediation, not all the topics were addressed. At the time of mediation, my ex was adamant about not leaving Wichita County, but that was before he found someone new and got married.

    What can I as the custodial parent do or what rights do I have if he in fact does relocate much further away from his son than he is now? Does he not give up or forfeit some of his rights by making the decision to move while I have been ordered to remain in one specific location this whole time? I will soon graduate in a couple semesters with my pediatric nurse practitioner degree and the thought of having to turn down a great opportunity for advancement because of where it might be located has been daunting, but it is something I have had to accept. But if he moves, I feel like I shouldn’t have to remain in this restriction any longer and I would be able to take a position that would better support my son in all that he wants to do and participate in as well as putting money away for his college education.

    And not to sound like I’m trying to isolate my son from his father, because I assure you I am not. But in regards to how often he has been involved, unless it is his weekend, I can’t count on my ex to be present in anything going on for my son. He has had to give up sports because he would miss all the practices and games that took place every other weekend and coaches were “nicely” trying to tell me that he won’t be able to do that as a teenager if sports is something he wants to pursue in high school or in competition leagues. And any Boy Scouts events that have taken place on his weekends, our son has had to miss them and miss out on opportunities to learn, socialize, and develop with his peers. I feel like when it comes to the best interest of the child, ONLY considering how often he sees his father is wrong and focusing on the child’s development is just as important if not more. I feel like if my ex does move that far away, I could enroll him back in sports and actually allow him to participate with his peers because I strongly feel that is an important milestone for children his age. Even when he is with me, he hardly spends that much time with me because he is with his friends and I encourage that. I don’t need him in my presence 24/7 so if there is a sleepover or a campout or a birthday party, I am pushing him towards those things without me. I could also look forward to better career opportunities if they were to be offered.

    This move, if my ex should pursue it, would be his decision and his alone. He has a good job right now and is not hurting financially. He simply wants to move to find a position within the field he is studying for right now and be closer to his in-laws. I don’t think I should have to continue to be restricted to my part of the agreement AND add on the extra stressors and financial burdens it would cost to continue the current set of orders that we have.

    If any of this makes any sense, I would appreciate any advice you have.

    Thank you.

  19. Rebecca February 12, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    If I am being asked to stay in Travis and contiguous counties, can I ask to add other counties in the restriction since the father lives in Harris and I have family that I may move to just north of Harris in Walker?

    I love your blog and your helpful responses!

  20. Common Sense February 16, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    I have a question concerning my husband’s divorce decree. It states that if they both live in the same county at the time of the divorce, and if his county of residence remains the same after the rendition of the order and her county changes, effective on that date we would have to surrender the child at our residence rather than hers. The issue we’re having is we’re interpreting this statement differently. There was a brief period several years ago where our county did change, but we have been back at their original county for the past several years. She has now moved to Fannin county, which is an hour away from Collin County. Since we still live in Collin County does she have to pick the child up at our house now, or do we still have to do all of the driving? It doesn’t seem right that just because we moved for a brief period, and returned to the original county to be as involved in his life as possible, that it should relieve her of her responsibility of helping out with the time and expense of driving to her new location.

  21. Common Sense February 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Sorry, One additional item I hope you can clarify for me. For the past six and a half years we have not gone by the standard order of 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend. Instead we have alternated every other weekend. We have also had him over night each Wednesday rather than only from 6-8 as the decree says. Now that we’ve asked her to drive, she has refused to let us have him over night on Wednesday’s unless we drive him to school the next morning. Since it’s over an hour each way, this is impossible. Can she change what’s been in place for so many years without going to mediation?

  22. Luis Rengel February 18, 2016 at 5:23 am #

    I live in Ensenada mexico my child is 14 years old. I’ve had her here before on internet schooling. she’s back in Texas now with mom, but wishes to come back to daddy. Can she ask the judge to p;ace the custody on daddy..??

  23. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    The only thing that is controlling is the order. If you want the current arrangement to be the order then you need to contact an attorney and file a modification with the court. Otherwise, the original order controls.

  24. Chris Schmiedeke March 2, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    Yes, you can ask to expand the residency restriction by filing a modification lawsuit. Contact an attorney to help you.

  25. Jessica March 28, 2016 at 11:40 am #

    My boyfriend is strongly considering filling for joint/shared custody of his kids, due mainly to the fact that his ex likes to dictate when and where and how he is able to see his kids. Current he lives relatively close to their residence so going to get them from home had never been much issue. But on the days he’s staying at our apartment, which is on other side of town, she will refuse to meet him to get the kids. We are considering buying a house not close to her but still in austin, she’s in round rock. Is there a restriction that would require us to live close to her if we want to get 50/50 custody of kids? And would the kids then have to be enrolled in different school districts?

  26. Janice April 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    Hi Chris –

    I’m an Austin resident who has primary custody of my two sons. I divorced my ex several years back and he placed a geographical restriction on me to stay in Williamson and Travis counties, presumably because his mother lives in Round Rock (where he moved back after I left him) and he was afraid I’d take the boys back to Michigan, where I’m originally from. 2 months after the divorce, he is jobless yet again and decided to move in with his girlfriend in San Antonio (just over 100 miles away, of course) and reduce his visitation to the 100+ mile contingency of every other weekend, but no weekdays. He didn’t exercise a single day more than that, even during the months he didn’t work. Fast forward to now, and I have been in a happy relationship with a man who lives with my sons and I and is a wonderful stepfather. He works in global business development and has a great job out of Denver that he can work mostly remote but has to travel there. We’ve been wanting to move to Denver for well over a year now and both found careers that work there (I’m in software) and have a support system of friends and colleagues. Just last month, because I’ve never hidden it, my ex hears we’re considering the move and transferred his work to Austin and moved himself, his new wife, and their child into his sister’s house in Pflugerville…within Williamson county. He’s behind in child support (I asked for far less than the state minimum and no insurance reimbursement simply because I made more and felt sorry for him) and in contempt of court for refusing to sign the boys’ passport affidavit because he wants to prevent us taking them on a family trip to Belize this summer.
    My question is: My divorce decree clearly stated that my geographical restriction was lifted if he moved out of those two counties…but never said what happens if he moves back before I was able to move! Please help…I am more that happy to pay to fly them back once a month and all, but I can’t stomach not being able to fully pursue the life my partner and I are able to give the boys.

  27. Donna April 6, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    I was just wondering what you think my chances might be in getting my residency restrictions lifted by the court. As of now, we have a standard custody agreement and i am custodial parent, im restricted to counties that touch the county i current live. My ex only gets the kids for a few hours, one day of the week, which i agreed to because he works weekends, He refuses to request a weekend off to spend time with them. He does take 2 weeks at a time off every other month to fly to England to be with his fiance. He never helps me with anything. im constatnly having to miss work to take care of our kids when their sick or for doctor appointments (something ive asked for him to help me with since he is off during the week, but he ‘has plans’ which is fine i guess)… He ‘cant afford’ to help get the kids clothes or help get them the braces they need… I have an opportunity to move south (roughly 350-400 miles from here) to better schools for my kids and be around close friends that are willing to help me out. I am hoping he and i can discuss it and come to an agreement without having to go through the courts, but if we have to, im just curious as to if you think a judge might lift the restriction?

  28. AustinStepMama April 15, 2016 at 8:50 am #

    Question about residency restrictions – it says that the CP must stay within the county or contiguous counties as long as the NCP lives there, also. If the NCP moves outside of that boundary, that frees the CP to do the same, right? Here’s where the question comes in – once the NCP moves outside of the residency boundary, does the restriction remain lifted if the NCP moves back into the boundary line? Does the CP have to hurry and move before the NCP decides to move back inside the line? Does the residency restriction lift and then become binding again, per the NCP’s change of residence? Or does it remain lifted if the NCP moves outside of the boundary line, regardless of whether they move back?
    If the NCP moved outside the boundary, as CP’s, we don’t want to be bound by their whims – what if we made arrangements to move out of the area and then they moved back within too short a time frame for us to cancel the move?

  29. Anonymous May 20, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    My daughter has been involved in custody litigation since November 2015. She has an attorney. I need someone to explain to me why attorneys are allowed to fabricate and use scorched earth tactics in the courtroom? The ex-boyfriend has made harmful allegations against my daughter, none of which have been proven. His attorney made false statements as well. The court services coordinator was not qualified or competent in statements given to the judge. I recently filed a complaint with the bar association, however, no action was taken. It is very disturbing that these family court laws are severely limited, the children are the ones that suffer.

    People should not be allowed to manipulate or abuse the court system in order to have control. I also wonder if my daughter’s attorney has been aggressive enough because opposing counsel came into the courtroom like a would be gladiator, looking only to win, not have the child’s best interest in mind.

    What I’ve seen so far is very disturbing.

  30. Anonymous May 20, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

    I failed to mention that my daughter has to pay a total stranger to supervise visits with her five year old daughter. There has been no proof or evidence whatsoever presented to the court why this needed to take place. My daughter is very concerned about parental alienation. She makes attempts to inquire about the child’s performance in school, he hardly ever responds. It’s been all about the dad wanting to be in complete control over my daughter.

    The dad is in his 30s, lives at home with his parents, sister, brother, sister-in-law, and two other young children. At one point the sister’s boyfriend lived in the home as well.

  31. Matthew July 23, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    I have primary custody of my three daughters. Their mother lost her custody rights in Indiana almost 4 years ago due to drugs. Texas took over when we gained custody and moved them here. Their mother has since moved to Beaumont and has joint custody visitation rights. She is months behind on child support and planning on moving back to Indiana. What can I do about this issue? She is basically abandoning the kids by moving 14 hours away and avoiding child support and her portion of the children’s insurance. Is she giving up her visitation rights?

  32. Tiffiany G September 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    Click is counting down and I’m undecided.. PLEASE HELP ME!
    My ex husband and have have a standard Texas custody agreement where he sees out son every other weekend. We all live I. Houston but his family located I. San Antonio and his fathers Heath is bad so he is moving in 12 days. He asked if I would allow out 9 year old to go with him as a 3 month trial. As his whole family is here and it’s just me her I felt it was selfish to say no. He and I have drawn up and fair agreement for 10/1-12-19 as a trial and if my son wants to come him back to house we agree he will he able. My concerns are mostly that if I all way him to go is there anyway he can decide he doesn’t have to bring him back at the end of the agreement should he want to come him?

  33. wanda November 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    So, if my mom hasn’t been letting the baby’s father see the child, before the restriction, can that also count against the father? Will she still be able to get the restriction removed? If he is trying now that she’s been letting him see the child, will this benefit him?

  34. Sophie December 22, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    I stumbled upon this blog while trying to answer a question. My husband has custody of his son and has for over 10 years. We recently moved to Plano from Austin due to my husbands job promotion. My husband and his ex wife have been divorced for over 10 years and he has had primary custody of their son since. When he and his ex were married they lived in Abilene, TX. She moved to San Angelo, TX and the court order was so that they would meet half way to exchange in the standard possession order. He never had any resident restriction and moved to Austin Texas a few years later. He lived in Austin for 5 years and they would agree to meet half way between Austin and San Angelo in Mason Texas. She then 2 years later took him to court saying that he was not following the possession order of meeting between Abilene and San Angelo after he had already lived in Austin for 3 years. He never got it changed and it was just an agreement between the two of them that they would meet when he moved. The meeting place was changed to instead of meeting half way they would have to do drop off and pick up at each other residence instead of meeting half way to ensure that there is no confusion on the meeting place. Dad also tried changing the order to her only getting him one weekend a month instead of every 1,3 and 5th because mom was not spending much time with him and instead leaving him with other relatives during the visitation saying it was her time and she could do what she wanted during her time. The court hearing took place in Abilene, Texas when neither of them lived there anymore but since that was the last place that had ruled the order and she filed in Abilene when she took him to court that is where the court was held. She does in no way want custody or has ever wanted custody. Flash forward until now there is still no residence restriction in place and he moved to Plano, Texas. The order says that dad has to drop off son at his mom’s by 6PM at her residence on Friday and mom drops him off by 6PM on Sunday at his residence (the court did not rule to change the visitation to 1 weekened a month and left it at 1st,3rd and 5th) Since the son who is now in middle school gets out of school at 3:30PM and dad gets out of work at 6PM with his new work schedule he can no longer have him there by 6PM. We know that this has to be resolved in court because mom is not agreeing to her picking him up on Fridays and Dad picking him up on Sunday or meeting half way. The lawyer from Abilene said that next time what Dad should do is have the court changed to where he lives that way he does not have to travel to Abilene where he no longer lives. My question is, how can he ensure that the court if held in Collin county where the child lives or will the court always be held in Abilene, Texas? How can we change it to Collin county?

  35. Frank January 4, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    I have a question with regard to mileage listed in the decree. I have primary custody and my ex lives in Connecticut. I have to fly the kids out for summer and Christmas visitation. The decree states that I have to fly them to an airport within 100 miles of her residence. Is the mileage as the crow flies (radius) or is it actual driving miles? It is cheaper to send the kids to BOS than to BDL. BOS is within a 100 mile radius, but actual driving is about 110.

  36. April January 31, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    First let me say Thank you for having this post on here to answer questions. I am a mother of a 10 year old daughter and her father and I are divorced. In the court order it says that I may not Move more than 50 miles out of Harris county . Well I am losing my job and my home and I have to live with my sisters in Louisiana and My ex and his girlfriend are telling me to take it to court because they will keep my daughter. My daughter doesn’t like her father’s girl friend and gets angry when she has to be around her. I don’t have money for an attorney right now and I feel like I am being bullied by the girlfriend. Is there anything I could do on my own without hiring an attorney?

  37. Angel February 14, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

    I have the same issue as Donna. I live in Collin County but my fiancé got a better job with better hours in Galveston and we got a 5 bedroom house for all of our kids to have their own room. I do have Geographical restrictions but I am hoping to get them lifted. The crime rate is so much less down there and there’s more stuff to do with my family and I’ll be able to go part time and spend more with my daughter. We will also be having a son together before the move. Her father gets her every Thursday and every other weekend. He works a lot so his fiancé watches our daughter while he is at work and only gets Sundays with her. I’ve given him notice of the move but he is denying the move. What can I do?

  38. Dianne March 2, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

    I have primary custody of my 4 children. My divorce decree states that I must live in the contiguous counties of Hays county. My ex husband lives in Travis county. I bought a house that is not contiguous to Hays county but it is contiguous to Travis county. He is now taking me to court over this. How likely will the judge be to rule in his favor? If I stay in the contiguous counties from the decree I will actually live farther away from him than I will be in the new house. I purposely picked a house that is closer to him so that he can still be active in their lives.

  39. Felix Perez April 8, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

    My case is that my ex wife and I have joint custody with her being the primary… she lives in Abilene and I in San Antonio… the divorced decree states that I’m the one to pick up and drop off my kids unless she moves then I pick them up and she then would have to pick them off from my place.
    She recently has an argument with her BF and asked me to help her move out of Abilene. I of course did not hesitate. Packed her up.. moved her to San Antonio and attempted to get her an apartment. She was denied. So she stayed in my apartment in the kids’ room. We registered the kids to school, she looked for a job, she even placed child support on her BF for their child, of course welcomed in my house. I few days later, she disappeared, emptied the stored place and before I knew it.. she was back in Abillene. Brought my kids close to me and snatched them right back. Of course I’m hurt but outside of that my legal question is. Since she did established a residence here… that is considered a move. Can I have the power to enforce the part that states we share responsibility for transportation?

  40. Chris Schmiedeke April 10, 2017 at 11:06 am #

    Felix, I cannot comment without seeing your order. Talk to an attorney in your area and show them the order. See what they say. Good luck.

  41. Michelle Watson May 21, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    I was a resident of Ft Bend county for several years before my job was eliminated in the oil and gas industry. I am the custodial parent to a 7 year old son and after 18 years of marriage, the divorce was finalized Nov 2014. After months of looking for work, I had to seek work in another state and found work in NC. I have lived in Wake County, NC starting in June 2016 and sold my house in Ft Bend county, TX in Sept 2016. My husband prior to the divorce and after the divorce was living and working in Seattle, WA for approximately 3 weeks out of every month. Note that my ex had been working in Seattle prior to when our son was born; he started working in the Seattle area in March 2009. After the divorce, my ex would return to Katy, TX and I permitted my son to stay with my ex for the one week he was here. This was a request my ex made and I agreed to it so that my son would have a relationship with his father. When I accepted work in NC, my ex agreed to the move due to the nature of his job and actually moved out of his apartment in Katy prior to when I moved. My ex now wants to modify the custody and child support amount because he claims NC child support is much less than what TX requires him to pay. He wants to force me to stay in Wake County but both my son and I want to move back to the Houston area when the economy improves in Oil and Gas. Can I contest and mandate that any modification is heard by a judge in Ft Bend county? Due to the amount of time my husband has travelled to Washington state, would a judge entertain the fact that my ex has spent no more than about 14-15 weeks per year in Texas? I had to take a 40 percent pay cut to take the job in NC and I ended up taking this job instead of taking a job in a higher cost of living areas – I also had potential offers outside of D.C. and Cleveland, OH. Financially, any change to child support would
    Cause me to have financial issues plus the vast majority of my career has been in the oil and gas industry and returning at some point will help me restore my earning power. Thank you for any advice you can provide.

  42. Maribel Ortiz June 6, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. My heart goes out to anyone in a similar situation.

    I met my son’s father in NY (where we are originally from-my whole life before this year was lived there). We moved to Dallas county and I immediately got pregnant. The emotional/psychological/mental abuse had started in N.Y. and escalated more throughout my pregnancy. He threatened to take away my son in any one of his bouts of rage. I called an attorney during these happenings and they each stated that nothing could be done until he (our son) was born. He was no longer my boyfriend after my 6th month of pregnancy. He ‘threw me out’ of the apartment (under both of our names) throughout and maintained an abusive cycle that kept me too tired, confused, and isolated to ask for help… and I allowed for the father’s name to be put on the birth certificate after all of this.

    I worked until our son was born and after, my ex boyfriend has maliciously tried and has me successfully dependent on him. Neither of us has friends or family here… I would have no where to go but a shelter which is what I am working on now.

    I really want to go back to my family where we can be safe and our son (only five months old) doesnt have to hear his parents arguing (which he doesnt call an argument) or without his father saying horrible lies about me while directing his attention to the baby, screaming at me while I drive, accusing me of unreal events. If this is now… what will it be like in a year, when our son is older and more cognizant of what is happening?

    I am with our son 99% of the time, still breastfeeding, I do all of the driving for the baby, the doctors visits, the putting him to sleep, the only one who gets up in the middle of the night, the cooking, the soothing, the reading, etc…

    I have spoken to lawyers in NY and they state the obvious, that TX will inevitable have jurisdiction. The father has a prior criminal background in the state of N.Y. as well so I thought that it could work for me to apply for temporary custody in NY since I cannot prove any physical abuse… I have however sharpened up and started recordings of the verbal abuse and obvious manipulation tactics. No guarantees can or will be made that I can get temp custody in NY.

    I understand that the judge wants to side with the parent that wants to keep the lines of communication open with the other parents and the child, but this is not in the best interest of the child.

    What does it take for a judge to help me keep my child safe? I am in a constant state of panic and lining the ducks for our escape with the little energy that I have left.

    Thank you for your advice.

    PS. there is no custody in place, but if I apply to leave the state, I know that he will do everything and anything to prevent me. He is highly manipulative, crafty and can make anyone side with him using plausible deniability.

  43. kelly June 15, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    I need your opinion on my situation if you don’t mind. My ex and i were never married and have only went to the AG office for child support and they put a residency restriction for me to stay in Navarro county. But he has been recently arrested on a felony drug charge, he might see the kids once a week for a hour or two then leaves to go fish with his friends, one of the two times he kept them overnight i found out from him that he left my one and two year old alone asleep in the house to go drink with his friend down the road. his house is filthy and he drink about 2 to 3 bottles of whiskey a week. would rather spend money on whiskey than help buy his kids diapers. he will only see them if i bring them to his house because he refuses to come pick them up.
    he doesn’t pay his child support and will not help with the cost of daycare and i can not find a job here to pay for it on my own. so my family in Montana are trying to help me and i have received a good job offer in Montana working at a mental health facility. Also my mother just got a nice size apartment if i can move up there i will have a better place for the kids to live and help with daycare so i can start working and go back to school. so i guess what im asking is what all i need to do to get a modification on the restriction and what you think would happen if i took him to court.

  44. Mary Wallace June 22, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    My husband has custody of his two daughters and they have resided in the same house in Lampasas since both girls were born. Their biological mother who has had very little to do with children over the past 5 years moved to Houston a few years ago. She only visits maybe twice a year and has little phone contact with the girls. She recently got married and is wanting to be a “more involved” but she is now demanding that we meet her half way which is a hour and forty five minute drive each way. Since she moved away from the girls, should she be responsible for transportation? She also does not pay child support because she is a full time student. Basically her husband pays the bills and she has chosen not to work.

    We just have a standard possession order. We are wondering if its necessary to have it modified to reflect that she is responsible for transportation.

    Also, her husband is not a citizen and they travel back and forth to England. Can we keep her from taking the girls overseas?


  45. Erica January 20, 2018 at 8:09 am #

    My texas decree has no geographical restrictions and I’m listed as having exclusive rights to determine my son’s residency. Ive remarried and my husmand lives in Connecticut. My 11 year old daughter has expressed she doesn’t want to see her father anymore* however he is very involved. My ex is very verbally abuse and has rage issues, cps has spoken to him however verbal abuse and rage are not illegal behaviors. If he were a good father I wouldn’t move however I feel that their relationship would benefit if they were too each other on less occassion. My question is how easily can my ex place geographic restrictions on me. While my My degree has none my decree also doesn’t stage long distance visitation options .

  46. ANONYMOUS February 2, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I have a question. Great Thread by the way.
    I relocated to Texas about 8 months ago. My relationship with my girlfriend ended very soon after getting here and we have a 2 year old daughter. We have never been married and moved from Florida where my daughter was born. My ex now wants to move with my daughter out of state. I have been actively involved in her life and have split cost of care since we have no existing court orders for support etc. We have been residing at the same place and I pay 50% of the bills. My question is how do I prevent her from leaving with my child since I do not have a child support order nor custodial agreement? Do I have rights in this case? I love my daughter And feel if she moves her to GA, my relationship with her will be severely affected.

    Thanks for your time

  47. Anonymous February 21, 2018 at 11:42 am #

    My boyfriend and his ex have been separated for going OK n 3 years. In the beginning she was the CP and he was the NCP. They didn’t exactly set up visitation rights because they lived in the same town. While she had them we could never get ahold of her, or knew where she was living because she bounced from house to house. Even moved out of town. Told no one. We found out after she had been gone for almost a month when we finally got ahold of her. We got his kids at as much as she allowed us to. If we could have gotten them more we would have. With the lack of getting ahold of her it was impossible. Few months later she moved back and asked us to take the two kids. Making him CP and her NCP. They have lived with us for 8 months. She also moved out of town again to get back on her feet. She has only gotten them maybe 5 times for the time being. We are currently in the situation where there are no jobs and can’t afford our home. With the thought of moving 200 miles away to be closer to his family, with a better job opportunity and living arrangements. We don’t want to take them away from her. We just can’t seem to get back on our feet in the town we are living in. We don’t feel comfortable with them going back to live with her, but know she won’t let us move with them. The job I have isn’t much. To take the opportunity to give them a better living is hard to say no to.

  48. Ace Madera May 30, 2018 at 10:34 am #

    I have a quick question. If my daughter wants to move to another location that is the same distance she lives now from the non-custodial parent but the counties are not adjacent. How would she go about this?

  49. Chris Schmiedeke June 13, 2018 at 8:52 am #

    She has to follow the order. If she needs to change the order, that would be a petition to modify the order. Talk to a local attorney.

  50. Amanda July 25, 2018 at 4:52 pm #

    I am currently looking to move out of state with my child. I am the custodial parent. I have spoken to my ex about the move and he doesn’t agree with it. He is not an active father and doesn’t take advantage of his visitation other then his every other weekend. I have been reading over my divorce decree trying to figure out the wording. There are 3 paragraphs about the residency of the child. In the last paragraph it says ” It is further ordered that this geographical restriction on the residence of the child shall be lifted, at the time XXXXX(me) wishes to remove the child from williamson county, Texas and contiguous counties for the purpose of changing the primary residence of the child, XXXXX(exes name) does not reside in williamson county, Texas and contiguous counties.” Does this mean I can move whether he approves or not?

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