The ability of a court to restrict the residences of children is one which varies under state law, from state to state. I am licensed to practice law in only the State of Texas, so my discussion will focus on Texas law. While there may be similarities to the laws of other states, you should check with an attorney licensed in the state in which your case sits, if that state is not Texas.

The issue of lifting, or modifying, a Residence Restriction, just like with other child custody and possession issues in Texas cases involving children, comes down to determining what is in the child’s best interest.[1]

The Texas Family Code[2] provides that it is the public policy of the State of Texas to:

  • Assure children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child; (my emphasis).
  • Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; (my emphasis, again); and
  • Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.


Accordingly, our Supreme Court has held that that “(t)he Legislature’s expressed public policy considerations guide our analysis of the positive-improvement and best-interest standard in the relocation context, but no bright-line test can be formulated. Suits affecting the parent-child relationship are intensely fact driven, which is why courts have developed best-interest tests that consider and balance numerous factors.

In looking at whether the change to the Residence Restriction is in the child’s best interest, courts should consider, among other things:

(1) the reasons for and against the proposed move;

(2) the effect of that move on extended family relationships;

(3) the effect on visitation and communication with the noncustodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child;

(4) the possibility of a visitation schedule allowing the continuation of a meaningful relationship between the noncustodial parent and the child;

(5) the nature of the child’s existing contact with both parents and the child’s age, community ties, and health and educational needs;

(6) whether there is a good-faith reason to request or oppose the move;

(7) the noncustodial parent’s ability to relocate;

(8) the degree of economic, emotional, and educational enhancement for the children and custodial parent; and

(9) the need for continuity and stability in custody arrangements.

Further, to the extent applicable, the best-interest factors used when establishing the initial or current order may be considered


Importantly, the controlling considerations for the court are those changes of conditions affecting the welfare of the child. The desires, acts, and claims of the respective parents are secondary considerations and material only as they bear upon the question of the best interest of the child.


So, for example, a change affecting the best interest of a child may be whether one or both parents are romantically involved with other individuals who are frequently around the child. If so, what is the nature of the relationship between the new romantic interest and the child? Has either parent developed a Substance Use Disorder? Have the work hours of a parent changed? Is there a new step-brother or sister in the picture? The list of possible changes is long. The idea is to focus on what is new or changed since the order imposing the Residence Restriction was entered. The court will not want to consider whether the Residence Restriction should have been imposed in the first place. That decision was made earlier. Our job will be to show that it is no longer in the child’s best interest.

I hope that this has given you some things to consider. Until next time, keep on loving your kiddos!




[1] TFC Section 153.002

[2] Section 153.00l(a)(l)

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