Texas Child Custody

Child Custody Rights in the Lone Star State


Texas Law And Interstate Custody Disputes


Often when a marriage ends, the first response of the parent leaving the family home is to move as far away from their ex as possible. Aside from the affects this can have on your child's emotional wellbeing, it can also affect the processes of filing a suit by raising issues of court jurisdiction.


In Texas, your choice of where you live is not only a personal issue between you and your child. It is also very much a legal issue.

When initiating a child custody suit, you need to give notice to the other parent. Before filing a child custody lawsuit in Texas you need to determine whether the suit has been filed in the proper state and court.

Texas has very specific laws to determine whether a custody case has been filed in the correct court. It's worth noting however that, all states in the US are governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA). This is a law that determines which state can make custody decisions.

This law sets out the rules that determine which state can hear a custody case and avoids confusion where two states could make custody decisions involving the same child. Under this law, states must try to cooperate with one another and must recognize and enforce the custody orders of other states.

In the state of Texas, disputes arise when one parent does not reside in Texas, or the child and other parent have moved out of Texas. Whether they have moved to another state or another country it is dealt with in the same way.


Ordinarily, question of who has jurisdiction rests with where the child (on the date of the commencement of the proceeding) is living. This decision includes where the child was living within 6 months of the commencement of the proceeding, if they have since moved. This would include situations where the child not longer lives in the state but whose parents do.

This is not always the case however. In some cases, the court (of the state where the child resides) may decline to exercise their right of jurisdiction if it is deemed that another state is a more appropriate forum.

Again this reflects the best interest of the child because often a child and their parent has a significant connection with that state other than the mere physical presence or there is a substantial amount of evidence available in this state regarding the child's care, protection, training and personal relationships.

In other instances, the parent may have already been served the citation of the previous state and consented to it prior to the moving interstate allowing that original county stated to exercise it's personal jurisdiction over them.

Jurisdiction of a child custody suit can be fixed in Texas even if a party has never lived in Texas. A party can be subject to a state's jurisdiction if they had merely engaged in sexual intercourse in that state and the child was conceived as a result of that action!

Where a parent does live in another state the court can order them to appear before the court in person. This can be with or without the child. Where the parent in this state has physical custody of the child, the court can order them to appear in person with the child

The parent issuing the citation needs to be aware that if a non-resident of the state parent is required to be present at a child custody proceeding, the court may require the other parent to cover travel and accommodation expenses. The child however need not be present.

Once it is determined that jurisdiction is proper in Texas when a party or the child resides out of state, then the proper county for the suit is determined by the general venue provisions previously set out above - namely, where most of the information concerning the case exists.

Beyond that, where a court in Texas has already made a child custody determination, it has exclusive continuing jurisdiction over that result unless or until it is determined that the child or parent's significant connection with that state no longer exists and that substantial evidence concerning their care, protection and training exists in another state.


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