A custodial parent sometimes wishes to move away following a Texas child custody case. Although some parents may want to get the child away from the other parent, there are often legitimate reasons for a parent to want to move. The primary consideration in the litigation of relocation issues is the child’s best interest. Although the Texas family law statutes do not set forth how a court should determine the child’s best interests, the Texas Supreme Court has stated courts should consider the public policies listed in Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.001. Texas has a public policy of assuring frequent and continuing contact with parents who act in the child’s best interest. There is also a public policy to provide a safe and stable environment for the child. Finally, Texas has a policy to encourage parents to share the rights and duties of raising the child after separation or divorce.
A father recently challenged a divorce decree that allowed the mother to designate the child’s primary residence without regard to location. The couple’s child was born in June 2011 and they stopped living together as husband and wife in August of the same year. The mother filed for divorce in 2015, alleging the child’s father had committed adultery. She also alleged he left her with the intention of abandonment and had stayed away for at least a year. The trial court named the mother joint managing conservator with the right to designate the child’s primary residence without any geographic limitations. The court also ordered the father to pay child support.
The father appealed, arguing in part that the trial court abused its discretion by not placing a geographic limitation on the child’s primary residence because the mother planned to move to Colorado.