Holiday season is upon us and Texas parents working under a divorce or child custody agreement may be wondering how they will share custody of the child during the upcoming holidays. Ideally the parents will have mutually agreed to a custody plan the maximizes the time the children spend with their families over the holidays; however that may not be the case for all families.
What is a geographic restriction in a Divorce?
Under Section 153.001, the Texas Family Code sets out that it is the public policy of the State of Texas to:
(1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
(2) provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
(3) encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
The goal of this code is usually accomplished by enacting a geographic restriction in a divorce or family law matter. A geographic restriction specifies the geographic area the children may reside. It can be as specific as a school district or as general as the state of Texas. The most common geographic restriction is “Harris and contiguous counties,” or the current county of residence as well as any adjacent counties. The primary conservator is given the exclusive right to designate where the children reside within a defined geographic area.
Sometimes an original order relating to conservatorship, such as a final decree of divorce or suit affecting parent-child relationship, does not include a geographic restriction. This becomes an issue when the primary parent wishes to relocate and the non-possessory parent files a modification suit to prevent a parent from moving.
The Court enact sanctions against a parent who chooses to violate an existing geographic restriction. The existing order can be modified changing conservatorship or the existing order. The Court can also hold a contempt hearing and possibly award punitive contempt such as an incarceration or fine. If there is an existing geographic restriction in your existing order it is very important that parties comply.
If you believe a geographic restriction will be an issue in your pending divorce or child conservatorship case, please contact the Ramos Law Firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.