Relocation with a Child Post Separation or Divorce

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When families break up, it can be a very difficult process. Starting over can be stressful, and it is even more nerve-racking when you are attempting to relocate with a child. When it comes to relocation with a child, one of the court’s most important concerns is doing whatever is in the child’s best interest.

Moving without a Custody Order

Depending on where you want to move can make a huge difference in the difficulty of the relocation. Relocating to another part of town or a neighboring city is not viewed the same as moving several hours away or even out of the state. If there is no child custody order in place, a parent can legally move anywhere with the child as long as they are not attempting to evade the law or violate a court order. However, if you and the other parent are in agreement with the relocation, you should still formalize some sort of agreement with the court because it can protect you and your child if the other parent wants to dispute your relocation after you move.

Moving with a Custody Order

If there is a child custody order in place, the first thing you should do is read your custody order carefully to see if there are any geographical barriers. If you are the custodial parent, you may have to get permission from the other parent as well as the court depending on the terms of the custody order. If there are no specific parameters related to either parent relocating, you should also think about visitation with the other parent and the feasibility of that plan. You should not assume that you can move with the minor child without discussing it with the other parent and the court; because it may complicate matters more and create tension between you and the other parent. If your plans to relocate conflict with the court-ordered custody schedule, it is required for you to seek a court order to change the arrangements formally.

Factors to Consider

Not only is where you want to move important, but so is why you are relocating. The court will consider both the “where” and “why” with what is in the child’s best interest in making a decision as to whether or not you as the custodial parent can move with the child. In deciding what is in the best interest of the child, the judge will look at several different factors, such as how the relocation will aid in the child’s life development, how realistic a visitation schedule with the other parent would be, and the rationale behind the other parent’s opposition to the move. At the hearing, the burden of showing evidence that the move will be detrimental to the child and their relationship with them is on the non-custodial parent. As the non-custodial parent, you should focus on showing the judge that it is in your child’s best interest to stay in the state. As the custodial parent, if you have to present any evidence, it should prove that moving is beneficial to the child. Some examples of how it can be better are that you are going to put the child in a better environment, in a better school, or moving them closer to family.

As previously stated, one of the main issues that come with relocating a child is making sure that even with the move that the child will be able to maintain a relationship with the other parent. Things like consistent communication, holidays, summer/winter breaks, and travel as well as the accompanying costs are important points to consider if you are looking to move the child several hours or states away from their other parent.

Rebecca Melone

Written By Rebecca Melone

Rebecca Melone established Melone Hatley P.C. in 2014 with the goal of helping families with a range of legal services from estate and family law to traffic tickets and misdemeanor criminal matters.
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