Should a Servicemember (or Anyone) Fear a Geographical Restriction When It Is Time to Relocate?

Servicemembers are frequently ordered to leave their location (i.e. PCS) to another county in Texas, another state in CONUS or another country OCONUS.  These moves are most often a condition for continued military service or career progression.  If a servicemember has children subject to a court order that imposed a geographic restriction on the residence with the children, what does this mean for a servicemember’s military career?   Should the servicemember fear that a geographic restriction will prevent relocation to the new duty station?  In general, the answer is “no,” the servicemember should not fear the geographic restriction. 

Texas law actually favors modification or the lifting of a geographic restriction if the move will improve the custodial parent’s economic circumstances in a manner that benefits the children.1  Continuing the servicemember’s military career significantly improves the servicemember’s ability to provide for the children because, in general, it is the only way to sustain the servicemember’s career.  

If faced with a pending relocation (i.e. PCS) and your children are subject to a geographic restriction, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced military family law attorney at least 3 or more months prior to the move.  That provides time to file for, and obtain, the court’s approval to modify or lift the geographic restriction for the reasons discussed above. 

Our firm has helped many servicemembers facing this situation get their geographic restricted lifted.  In fact, the same principle applies to anyonemilitary, Federal Civil Service, or civilianwho may be facing a job relocation and worried about how to handle a geographic restriction imposed by court order.  Call us if you need help.

Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and the founder and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm, PLLC.  The firm provides a spectrum of family law-related services to clients in the greater San Antonio region, across the United States and throughout the world.  The firms also provides Wills and Estates and Probate services.

Note1 See In re Cooper, 333 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, no pet.) (stating that “court’s favor modifying residency restrictions to allow the custodial parent to relocate when the proposed relocation will significantly improve the custodial parent’s economic circumstances to the betterment of the child.”)