How to Register an Out-of-State Child Custody Order in Texas

To register your out-of-state custody order you will need:

See Texas Family Code 152.305(b).

These forms are intended for uncontested registrations. Talk to a lawyer before representing yourself, especially if you do not think the other party will agree that the orders should be registered in Texas. Start by looking for legal help in TexasLawHelp's Legal Help Directory.

Checklist Steps

First, get two copies of your out-of-state custody orders. One of those must be a certified copy. A certified copy of your order will have an endorsement, certificate, seal, or stamp to prove it is a true and correct copy of the original order.

You will need to talk to the court in the state that issued the orders to find out how. If you don't know where to start and your income is low, contact the legal aid organization closest to where you live. Use Legal Services Corporation's Get Legal Help tool to help you find the legal aid organization closest to where you live.

If you think you don't qualify for free legal aid, consider hiring a private attorney where you live, or where the case is taking place. The American Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Directory. The State Law Library of Texas lists Texas lawyer referral services


Once you receive the certified copy of your out-of-state custody order, determine where to register it.

Registration is appropriate in the district clerk's office of the Texas county where the child has lived for the prior six months. If you don't know what Texas county you have been living in, the National Association of Counties has a tool for locating your county by ZIP code.

Once you know the proper Texas county to register your out-of-state custody order in, prepare and file a letter or other document requesting the registration. Along with the letter, include:

  1. Two copies of your order: one certified copy and one regular copy.
  2. Statement or affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that the order you want to register has not been changed, to the best of your knowledge and belief.

Your statement/affidavit must include your name and address and the contact information of any parent or person acting as a parent who has been awarded custody or visitation in your out-of-state order.

Warning: Talk to a family violence lawyer if you plan to allege in your affidavit, which is signed under oath, that the health, safety, or liberty of a party or child would be jeopardized by disclosing the identifying information, the information must not be shared.

The information can only be disclosed to the other party or the public if the court orders the disclosure after a hearing and determines that the disclosure is in the interest of justice. See Texas Family Code 152.209.

To find a family violence lawyer in Texas, use TexasLawHelp's Legal Help Directory and select "Protection from Violence or Abuse" in the "Areas of Expertise" pulldown menu.

Check with the district clerk's office to ask what their filing fees are. If you cannot afford the filing fee, file a statement of inability to pay costs along with your letter, affidavit, and copies of your orders. 

File (turn in) your completed letter, affidavit, and two copies of the orders with the court. 

  • To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.
  • To file your forms in person, take them to the district clerk’s office in the county you have determined is the correct county to register the orders.

At the clerk’s office:

  • Turn in the forms.
  • Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee). 
  • Ask the clerk if there is a local standing order that you need to follow or attach to any of your documents.
  • Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for your divorce.
  • The clerk will write your “Cause Number” and “Court Number” at the top of the first page of your letter. (Write these numbers at the top of any document you file in your case.)
  • The clerk will file stamp your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and give you back your copies. One copy is for you and one copy is for the other parties.

Review your affidavit. It must include the name and address of any other person listed as a party to the out-of-state order you are seeking to register. These people are entitled to notice that you are registering the orders in Texas.

Once all of the required legal documents—letter or document, one certified copy of the out-of-state order, one regular copy of the out-of-state order, and the affidavit—are received, the registering court will file the out-of-state order as foreign judgment and will serve notice on the persons (the parent or other person acting as a parent) named in the affidavit. 

The notice must state that the other parent or person acting as a parent must request a hearing to contest the validity of the registered out-of-state order within 20 days after service of the notice.

The notice must also state that the failure of the other parent to contest the registration will result in confirmation of the out-of-state order in Texas and will prevent them from contesting it in the future. 

If the person contesting registration does not make a timely request for a hearing, registration of the order will be confirmed as a matter of law. Then, all parties (the person requesting registration, the other parent, and any person acting as a parent) must be notified of the confirmation.

Confirmation of the registered out-of-state order, whether by operation of law (meaning the other parent did not contest or did not contest properly) or after notice and hearing, prevents further contest of the order. This is true for any matter that could have been brought up at the time of the order’s registration.

These instructions and forms are intended for uncontested registrations. Talk to a lawyer before representing yourself, especially if you do not think the other party will agree that the orders should be registered in Texas. Start by looking for legal help in TexasLawHelp's Legal Help Directory.

If the other parent (or another party) wants to contest the validity of the registered order, they must request a hearing within 20 days after the service of the notice.

At the hearing, the court will confirm the registered order unless the parent who is contesting registration can prove certain facts to the registering court.

The parent contesting registration must prove one of the following:

1. That the issuing, out-of-state court did not have jurisdiction to make its orders.

2. That the child custody judgment to be registered has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so.

3. That the person contesting registration was entitled to notice, but notice was not given as required for non-Texas residents, as part of the proceedings before the court that issued the order to be registered. See Texas Family Code 152.108.

Once your orders are registered, a Texas court can modify or enforce them. You can use these guides. 

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