What is geo-restriction or geographical restriction?
This is a common question during a suit affecting parent-child relationship. Generally during custody cases, parents want to know why they are restricted.
The Texas Family Code allows for a parent to be restricted to a certain county.
Does that mean I can move? Yes, but within certain distance and count(ies).
Can I travel? Yes (see your Order/Decree).
Can I travel with my child? It depends.
The questions surrounding geographical restriction depends on your Order or Decree. Typically, the parent with primary custody is restricted to a county. However, the rule of thumb is 100 miles (per the Code).
What does that mean? It means you cannot change the residence of the child to a place outside of 100 miles from where you live at the time the Court signs the Order.
What is the point of the Restriction?
The restriction exists so that the non-custodial parent can enjoy more time with the child. It is not uncommon for the primary conservator to hide the child. Also, the point of the restriction is to foster a good environment for the child. Just think about it! It will be very difficult for a child to move back and forth between parents during regular school terms if they are very far apart. Every weekend will be a challenge for the family – emotionally, mentally, and even financially.
Do not ignore your Order.
What if I don’t follow the order and move without telling the other parent? You can be held in contempt of court. You may also be penalized for abduction.
That is why it is important to follow your Order.
What if I want to make changes to the Order? You can.
You need to file a suit to modify (change) the Order. Or – if there is an agreement with the other parents that it’s okay to move – then, file the signed agreement with the Court.
How to Lift a Geographical Restriction?
There are ways or grounds for lifting geographical restriction. But there are also some limitations.
For example, you cannot ask the court for the restriction to be lifted when the order is one year or less.
Factors court considers:
- Family support in connection to a new location
- Remarriage of the primary conservator
- Better educational or health opportunities
- Job promotion or career advancements
- Lack of visitation by non-custodial parent
- Child’s age and relationship with the non-custodial parent (it makes it easier if the non-custodial parent has not exercised his right of possession/stopped visiting).
- Ability to maintain contact in other forms such as phone calls, email, Skype, Facetime, e.t.c.
These are factors, not requirement.
In other words, you need to talk to a family lawyer. Your attorney will consider the facts in your case to see which factors apply.
The Automatic Lift
Typically, in an Order, there is a clause that allows a restriction to be lifted , if at the time when you want to move your child’s primary residence, the non-custodial parent no longer lives within 100 miles of the county you were restricted to.
One last thing to note…
The goal of a geographical restriction is to make visitation and co-parenting better for parents and the children.
The standard is always the best interests of the children. Contact one of our child custody attorneys to assist you with your case.