Following the divorce or separation of a couple with children, a primary concern is typically where the children will live and how often each parent will get to see them. To prevent one parent from moving out of town or out of state with the child or children, many judges will issue a residency restriction, which dictates where a child is allowed to live geographically.

Residency restriction orders are common in Texas child custody cases and allow both parents to have frequent and continuous access to their children. Whether through written order or court order, most Texas judges will limit residence in the case of joint child custody because it is deemed to be in the child’s best interest. 

If you have questions about how residency restriction may affect child custody (and vice versa) in Austin or Central Texas, here are three important things to know:

  1. Residency restriction boundaries vary. Your individual child custody agreement will determine where the boundaries of residency restriction are drawn. In Texas, residency can be restricted to an area as small as a school district or as large as the state. For example, if a parent lives in Austin or Travis County, most judges will order that the child has to live in Travis County. However, in some cases, the residency restriction order may be expanded to include Travis county and as well as neighboring counties. 
  2. Non-custodial parents will have more to prove. Typically Texas judges limit residency in the case of joint custody. However, if you are the non-custodial parent and you do not live with your child the majority of the time or do not have physical custody of your child, you may need to prove to the court that you are active in the child’s life and that it is in the child’s best interest to have their residency restricted. 
  3. You will need to notify the other parent of an upcoming move. Even if there is no residency restriction in place, co-parents must notify each other if there is a change of address. Relocation can affect a child as well as the child-parent relationship even if the move is a small one. In the case of a residency restriction order, your relocation will have to be approved by the court. 

Before the residency restriction process is initiated, there is no legal safeguard preventing a parent from moving out of the state, or even the country, with a child. However, once the process is started, there is a standing order in states like Texas that restrict where the residence is going to be. That is why it is important to start the process regarding child residency as quickly as possible, especially if a parent anticipates there will be push back from the co-parent. 

If you are seeking an attorney for assistance with a child custody or residency related matter, Sandoval Law Firm can help. To speak with one of our legal experts, please send us an email or call 512-580-2449. We serve Travis County and Austin, TX