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Can I Stop My Ex From Relocating If They Owe Child Support?

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Your ex is moving to another state. You fear that you might not be able to get them to pay up the child support they already owe. Fortunately, there is a federal act that requires all states to uphold a child support court order when a non-custodial parent relocates to their state.

A parent relocation also often requires the court to change custody and visitation orders. This is to reflect the change in visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent and the parenting time the custodial parent has with the child. A custody order may also contain domicile restrictions that protect the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent and allow the children to spend time equally with either parent. The court may also change child support amounts as part of a relocation.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

The UIFSA protects parents who need to collect interstate child support. It gives a state the right to enforce a child support order issued in that state even though the non-custodial parent may have moved away. UIFSA also outlines procedures that allow the state where the order was issued to send a withholding notice to the new state. This states the amount, frequency, and duration of child support. It will also state any amounts of child support owed and other specifications relating to the payment.

Out-of-State Enforcement of Child Support Orders

The judge will decide the final agreement based on the facts of the case and the child's best interests.
The judge will decide the final agreement based on the facts of the case and the child’s best interests.

You or your attorney can file a motion to enforce a child support order across state borders. The court in the other jurisdiction can enforce child support arrears by requiring employers to withhold part of the parent’s paycheck to meet their obligations. This applies even though the parent is no longer in the state where the original child support order was issued.

While there are criminal penalties for parents who do not meet their child support obligations, in many circumstances it is more difficult to file criminal charges in another county or state. Your lawyer or law firm will have to file the criminal charges in the state courts where the existing orders were issued. The other parent must appear in court or be extradited for the case.

Locating Your Ex

If you are having trouble locating your ex, you can use parent locator services. These are available from your local Child Support Enforcement Agency or your state. Your state will contact the other state that you believe your ex has moved to.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency often has access to more data and resources to locate your ex. This includes new hire data, change of address information for driver’s licenses, and credit bureau data that the agency can use to locate your ex.

Once you’ve found the other parent’s new address, you can now contact them and proceed with legal action.

Modification of a Child Support Order

Any case for the legal modification of child support orders must be filed in the court that issued them. The only exception is if both parents move to a new jurisdiction. This provides the courts in the new jurisdiction the right to change the orders. The parent that is seeking to modify the legal orders should file the case to modify the orders in their new state.

In many cases, a relocation will require a modification of child support orders to establish new visitation and access schedules. The parent with primary physical custody may also request additional child support from the parent moving to another state.

Relocation will also affect geographic or domicile restrictions. If one parent decides to move to another state, the need for the current domicile restriction will be negated. Parents will need to decide if the restriction should stay in place. Alternatively, the custodial parent may now move to another state if they wish.

The legal process is much easier if parents are in agreement about the new arrangements. However, if parents cannot agree, they will hire a lawyer to present their case to a court judge.

Get A No-Cost Case Review From An Experienced Attorney

Attorney Sean Lynch will fight to ensure your child support order is successful in court.
Attorney Sean Lynch will fight to ensure your child support order is successful in court.

Need help with enforcing child support on an ex who is moving to another state? Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

How My Child Custody Relocation Letter Created Stress

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A father hugs his daughter as he leaves without signing a relocation letter.
If your ex won’t sign your child custody relocation letter, you have legal recourse. Photo by Erick St. Donn.

My children and I have been so much happier since my divorce. Still, some things are more complicated. Dealing with my ex-husband and the visitation schedule is frustrating. He doesn’t always respond to my calls. Sometimes, he isn’t home when I arrive to drop off the kids. Other times, he keeps them for too long. Things between us went downhill when he refused to sign my certified child custody relocation letter

It is critical to use a U.S.P.S. certified mail with signature required to communicate with your ex about child custody relocation notice.
ALWAYS use a signature required certified mail when notifying your ex about your intent to relocate.

When I received a job offer in another city I knew that I needed to notify the father of my child before moving. Unfortunately, he refused to accept the certified relocation letter that I was sending him via certified mail. I was stressed. Could I still move away if my ex-husband refused to take a certified relocation letter?

What are the Texas Child Custody Requirements to a Non-Custodial Parent Before a Move?

Texas child custody law mandates that a custodial parent must make the non-custodial parent aware of any planned move. I had to make sure to give him at least 60-days’ notice to ensure that he was aware of my intent to relocate with the children. Otherwise, the court may deny the relocation. In my case, there was plenty of time. However, if a 60-day notice had not been possible, then I would have had to notify him as soon as I became aware of my plans. Some child custody orders will also contain details of what a relocating parent needs to do to provide notice. You may need to ask your attorney and read the terms of your court custody order carefully.

When a child’s residence has been restricted to a particular area in Texas, one parent cannot just move with the child outside of that geographical area. It doesn’t only apply when you move out of state. You need to first get approval from the court. Typically, this means that the parent wishing to move must send a child custody relocation letter to provide notice. He or she must also seek a court order modifying the initial child custody arrangement stated in the custody order. The revised custody and visitation schedule for the new location they intend to move to must also be approved.

Requirements and Recourse for Non-Custodial Parent

The relocation notice must include certain information when it is sent to the non-relocating parent. The relocating parent must state:

  • Intent to move
  • The destination they intend to relocate to
  • Reasons for relocation
  • A statement that indicates the non-relocating parent may have 30 days to file a petition with the court to contest the relocation
  • Address and phone number of the new residence

In my situation, the original parenting plan did not restrict my kid’s residence to a specific geographical location. The move will not affect his parenting time. However, this did not mean that I could just relocate without regard to my ex’s wishes. If he had opposed my move, he could have filed a motion challenging the relocation within 30 days of the notice to relocate. He could even have obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent me from leaving until after the court held an official hearing.

My Attorney’s Advice On My Relocation Letter

I knew I needed to send the dad a parent relocation letter to let him know my moving date and the address of my new residence. Since he was not accepting my messages, what could I do? I finally decided to contact a family law attorney to help me.

My attorney told me that the most important thing to do was record all of the attempts I made to notify my ex-husband that I wanted to relocate. She said that all of the mail receipts and his refusal to sign for my letter would be strong evidence that I had acted in good faith. This would help to ward off claims that I intended to alienate the child from him. Also, if I could show how relocating for my new job will provide me more money to support my child, it would further advance my cause to relocate. My attorney helped me to build my case and file a petition to the court.

The moving parent must also use certified mail with a return receipt. This is so you have evidence that you intended to provide notice to your ex but they did not answer.

In Texas, Child Welfare Comes First

A child’s happiness and well being are the sole priority for Texas Family Judges in deciding to approve out–of-state custody relocation requests.

Texas’s policy toward child custody cases is to decide based on what’s in the child’s best interest. Whenever the court hears about the possession of a child or visitation, they will consider the welfare and best interests of the child first. 

Even though I wanted to relocate and had sent multiple relocation letters, I needed to show that the relocation would be the best thing for the child. I learned that the court considered the following factors in its decision:

Facts About Relocation Letters

  1. What were my reasons for relocating and moving away?
  2. How would relocating impact the psychological needs of my children?
  3. Was there quality health care where we were relocating to?
  4. Were there equal or better educational opportunities at our destination?
  5. What did the children prefer?

Crucial Factors In A Texas Judge’s Decision To Allow A Move Out of State

After looking at these factors, if the court thinks that the move out of state or to another city is best for the child, it will consider a few other factors before giving you the go-ahead for child custody relocation. 

Considerations For Relocation

  1. What is the current relationship between my children and their father or the non-relocating parent?
  2. What is his track record of interest in fostering a relationship with them?
  3. Could the dad deal with a new, more complicated visitation schedule? Would it negatively affect his relationship with the children? What would be the impact of a long-distance parenting relationship?
  4. Would my ex be able to afford to pay for the travel expenses associated with visiting his babies in another city? 

For me, it wasn’t enough that I could show that I had been trying to provide notice to my ex with relocation letters. I was having a hard time getting permission from the court to relocate if my ex didn’t want to respond to my letters. If you seek to move out of state or to another city with your children, file a petition to object to child custody relocation within 30 days, or want to contest a motion to modify your child visitation rights and parenting time, you have legal recourse. The court may often also require you to change a child custody order and revise the parenting plan as part of your relocation.

We can help with a child custody relocation letter

Sean Lynch + Associates are ready to help with your child custody legal issues.

Let the award-winning family law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates law firm help you prepare your child custody case when you intend to move out of state. They have decades of experience in family law and can provide legal advice. Contact us today for a no-cost case review with a qualified family law attorney.