Is it possible to add a geographic restriction on the children’s residence after-the-fact when no such restriction was levied in the decree or final order? Yes, it’s possible. But, it’s a tall order. Adding the geographic restriction after-the-fact requires the court to find that a “material and substantial change in circumstances” has occurred due to a proposed or actual relocation.
First, be aware that a proposed or actual relocation by itself does not equal a material and substantial change in circumstances. This holds true regardless of the distance involved in the relocation.
Next, be aware that a finding of material and substantial change will depend on the court’s evaluation of the specific facts of the case, including factors such as the following:
- the distance involved [balanced against the other factors below];
- the nature and quality of the relationship between the children and non-custodial parent;
- whether the relocation would deprive the non-custodial parent of regular and meaningful access to the children;
- the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the children’s future contact with the non-custodial parent;
- the custodial parent’s motive for the move (e.g. job change vs. discretionary relocation);
- the non-custodial parent’s motive for opposing the move;
- the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the children and non-custodial parent through suitable visitation arrangements; and,
- the proximity, availability, and safety of travel arrangement.
Speak with a qualified family law attorney to learn more.
Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm. The Cramp Law Firm provides a spectrum of family-related legal services in the greater San Antonio Region.
For attorneys, this blog post is based upon the following case: Bates v. Tesar, 81 S.W.3d 411, 430 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2002, no pet.).