The Amarillo Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion, styled In re A.S., upholding the trial court’s imposition of a geographical restriction on the child’s primary residence in a case where the mother was appointed sole managing conservator.
When parents are appointed joint managing conservators, geographical restrictions on a child’s primary residence (for example Dallas and contiguous counties) by courts are more common than not in Dallas divorce and custody cases, as well as divorce and custody cases throughout Texas. In fact, the Texas Family Code specifically provides that the court may impose a geographical restriction on a child’s residence when the parents are appointed joint managing conservators. Tex. Fam. Code §153.134(b)(1)(A). In contrast, the provision of the section Texas Family Code that provides for a sole managing conservator’s right to designate the primary residence of their child does not even reference geographical restrictions, stating instead that a sole managing conservator’s right is subject to limitation by the court. Tex. Fam. Code §151.132(1).
The Amarillo Court in In re A.S. cited the public policy of Texas, in assuring that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of their children, in support of its decision. Further, the Court noted that nothing in the Family Code prevents imposition of a geographical restriction in cases where one parent is appointed sole managing conservator.
This is an important case to keep in mind if you are a parent who may be appointed possessory conservator, or if you are an attorney representing the party who may be appointed a possessory conservator. Cite to the argument provided in In re A.S., and ask the court to impose a geographical restriction on the child’s residence. If you are the sole managing conservator, or the Texas custody attorney representing them, be prepared to address this issue if you wish to have the freedom to move wherever you choose with your child.