Parents often fear that their kids will be moved far away after a divorce. The legal tool parents have to keep kids in place and nearby following divorce is called a “geographic restriction.”
It is the public policy of Texas to assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child, to provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child, and to encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.
Therefore, parents can agree, or courts can order, that children’s residence be restricted to a geographically defined area. This restriction is binding on both the kids and both parents.
Let’s say, for example, Mom is the custodial parent – meaning she has the exclusive right to designate the children’s residence. And, let’s say for example, there is a geographic restriction in the decree that requires the children’s residence be restricted to Harris and contiguous counties. This means Mom and the children must reside within Harris County or any other county that is contiguous to Harris County.
This also means that Dad must reside in Harris County or any other county that is contiguous to Harris County. If Dad moves out of the restricted area, then the public policy of keeping the children near Dad no longer applies because Dad has left the area. The Geographic Restriction no longer applies, and Mom is free to move herself and the children outside of the restricted area.
Geographic restrictions may be very narrow (such as the children must reside in within a certain school district) or very broad (such as anywhere within the State of Texas). They can also be tailored to fit your specific needs and circumstances.