GEOGRAPHIC RESTRICTION ON CHILD’S RESIDENCE
In most custody determinations, a court will grant one of the parents the right to designate the residence of the child(ren) even if the parents are named joint managing conservators with shared rights and duties. The parent having the right to designate the residence of the children is often referred to as the “primary” conservator. If desired by the other parent, most courts will grant a geographic restriction on the primary conservator’s choice of the children’s residence and include that restriction in the court’s custody order.Typically, the geographic restriction is the county of the children’s current residence or a county that is contiguous to the county of current residence. The Texas Family Code states that it is the public policy of this Sate to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with both parents if the parents have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child. T.F.C. §153.001. However, sometimes circumstances change such that the primary conservator desires to move the children outside of the geographic restriction, which requires a modification of the court’s custody order.In determining whether a geographic restriction should be modified, the court’s primary consideration is the best interest of the children.T.F.C. § 153.002. In determining the best interest of the children in the context of a request to modify a geographic restriction, Texas courts have considered the following factors:(1) the relationship with and the presence of extended family; (2) the presence of friends; (3) the presence of a stable and supportive environment; (4) the custodial parent’s improved financial situation and ability to provide a better standard of living for the children; (5) positive impact on the custodial parent’s emotional and mental state, with beneficial results to the children; (6) the noncustodial parent’s right to have regular and meaningful contact; (7) the ability of the noncustodial parent to relocate; and (8) the ability of the noncustodial parent to adapt his or her work schedule to the children.After considering these factors, if the court determines that it is in the best interest of the children to allow the primary parent to relocate with the children, usually the geographic restriction will be modified.