Move Away Cases and Visitation: A Court Decides

Move Away Cases and Visitation: A Court Decides

One of the more difficult situations divorced parents face arises when one parent wants to move away. If the move is across town, that’s one thing, but often a parent wants to relocate to another state. Of course, that severely impacts visitation. We’ve written before about relocations and the evidence courts consider. But we, the experienced Houston family law attorneys at Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., have noticed a recent case that shows examples of the types of evidence needed.

The founders of Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., are Shannon Boudreaux and Kevin Hunter. Both are graduates of Houston’s South Texas College of Law, where both earned honors. Ms. Boudreaux made the Dean’s List, while Mr. Hunter excelled in oral advocacy. Ms. Boudreaux also has earned the top rating of 10 from Avvo, a client-centered attorney rating firm. Mr. Hunter, a military veteran, received a client satisfaction award from the American Association of Family Law Attorneys. Together with their associate attorneys and staff, Ms. Boudreaux and Mr. Hunter know how to handle a variety of family law cases.

The Recent Move Away Case

Although Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., practices in and around, the firm pays attention to cases from other Texas judicial districts because those cases can influence judges in Houston. The Austin Court of Appeals recently decided a move away case that is instructive. In that case, the court approved a judge’s decision to allow a parent to move from Austin to Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona.

What Happened in the Case

Mother and Father met when they attended Arizona State University. They married, then moved to Austin so that Mother could attend graduate school. Mother graduated in 2012 and undertook the often long and difficult job of finding a tenure-track position at a university. Father joined the Austin Police Department and achieved the rank of detective by the time of the parties’ divorce.

The parents had three children, a nine-year-old and six-year-old twins. One of the twins had medical issues that Mother cared for. Both parents had a history of mental health problems. Father testified that he would be the better parent, but Mother said that the mental health issues would not affect the parenting abilities of either parent.

The Critical Move Away Factors

A court’s job in any type of visitation or custody case is to put the best interest of the child first. Some of the things the court considered in allowing the move away were:

  • Mother had been the children’s primary caregiver.
  • Mother had researched schools and activities available in Glendale, where she would work.
  • The family would live in a house in a Phoenix neighborhood with a good school district.
  • The house is near a YMCA, which has a pool where the children could continue their swim lessons.
  • One of the children’s doctors recommended his mentor in Phoenix, who specialized in treating the one twin’s medical issue.

In contrast, Father testified that he would provide a “safer, more stable and nonviolent” home, that he was active in the children’s lives and that the children had thrived under his approach to parenting.

Another factor a court can consider when determining a child’s best interest is what the parents’ plans are. Another factor is a parent’s ability to care for the children financially. Also important is stability. The court found that:

  • When Mother and Father moved to Austin, both understood that when Mother graduated, the family probably would have to find a teaching position elsewhere. Tenured opportunities do not come about often, so the family might wind up living anywhere.
  • Father did not object when Mother applied for the job in Arizona.
  • Father could transfer from the Austin Police Department to a Phoenix area police force, given his experience.

Move Away Cases Depend Upon a Cumulation of Evidence

We’ve mentioned some, but by no means all, of the evidence in the case. In any type of custody or visitation case, it is important to assemble extensive evidence of facts large and small. For example, part of Mother’s evidence was that near the house she would buy is a YMCA with a pool.

As experienced family law attorneys, we at Boudreaux | Hunter & Associates, L.L.C., know what types of evidence a court needs and how to get it. We can help you with any family law case, including move away cases. For help, please click on Contact Us or call us at (713) 333-4430.