Texas courts favor residency restrictions in child custody orders as long as both parents have shown the ability to parent the child.    In general, if a non-custodial parent asks for a residency restriction, the court is almost certain to restrict the custodial parent’s residence to the county of the court plus the contiguous counties.  However, the residency restriction would state that if the non-custodial parent moves outside of the zone, the residency restriction no longer applies.  For example, if Mom and Dad get divorced in Collin County and Mom is awarded primary custody, Dad can request that Mom (and the children)’s residence be restricted to Collin County and the contiguous counties (the counties touching Collin County).  If Dad chooses to move to California or Houston or even Tarrant County (which is not contiguous to Collin County), the residency restriction would no longer apply and Mom would be able to move anywhere she wanted with the child absent a new court order.  (If Dad in this scenario were moving to Tarrant County, he could likely get a new residency restriction in place to avoid Mom moving far away.  That would require a modification proceeding and a new order.)

If parents are awarded a 50/50 custody schedule, then a residency restriction will be placed on the children. The restriction would require both parents to live within a certain zone, which could be the county and contiguous counties, or it could be smaller.  With a 50/50 schedule, the zone is often smaller because both parents need to be conveniently located to the children’s schools.

Residency restrictions are extremely hard to get around if the other parent wants to be involved in the child’s life.  If both parties agree, you can have an order entered without a residency restriction.  However, if the parties do not agree, the custodial parent is almost certainly going to be stuck in or near the county where the court case takes place.



Residency restrictions are extremely common in any order involving child custody in Texas, whether in a divorce decree or in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.  In Collin County, orders typically say the residence of the child is restricted to Collin County and the contiguous (surrounding) counties.  Similarly, Dallas County orders often restrict the residence of the child to Dallas County and the contiguous counties.  Occasionally, the parties will agree to a more specific residency restriction, such as one or two counties, a particular city, or even a particular school zone.

If one parent has been given the right to designate the primary residence, the residency restriction keeps that parent (and the child) within the boundaries of the order as long as the non-custodial parent is living within that area.  However, if the non-custodial parent moves from within those boundaries, the residency restriction is automatically lifted (under most orders) and the custodial parent is free to move anywhere with the child.

If neither parent has been given the right to designate the primary residence, a residency restriction will keep everyone within the designated boundaries.  In a split custody arrangement, the residency restriction is often more narrowly tailored so that both parents are close to the child’s school.

Residency restrictions are designed to keep both parents actively involved in the child’s life.  Generally, if one parent asks for a residency restriction, the court will grant it unless there is a very compelling reason not to.  Once the parties have a residency restriction, it can be very difficult to have it lifted unless the parties are in agreement.

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