Divorces can be nasty business that impacts the lives of not just the former spouses, but their kids. Typically, one parent gets full custody of the kids, which can be harrowing for the parent who didn’t get custody. What makes this situation much worse is if the custodial parent decides they want to leave the area and relocate with their child. This type of thing happens often and it creates a bigger mess out of an already difficult custody battle and a family law attorney should be involved.

Unless the divorcing couple signs and agreements between them that no relocation will occur, this type of dispute might happen. Of course, the noncustodial parent will want to raise the issue in court and stop the relocation from happening. A parent moving the child away definitely gets in the way of the noncustodial parent being able to have visitation rights as previously judged upon. When this type of dispute arises, the custodial parent may be forced to stay in the area by a judge.

The laws that dictate relocation custody battles really vary among the states. Each state might have a different requirement for allowing the relocation of a child. It might even require the consent of the noncustodial parent to move the child away. Without consent, a parent should not be able to take their child away and essentially prevent them from visitation rights. Again, it really depends on what the law says and how each case is determined.

Getting Express Consent

If you want to move your child away from the noncustodial parent, then such an agreement has to be made during the custody hearing. Both parents must agree to this fact beforehand sometimes it is not thought of at the time. You don’t expect to lose your child much less your acts moving away with your child and you being unable to see them on a regular schedule.

Parents who do consider that this might happen should have it in writing that relocation is not allowed. Even if relocation is allowed and permitted by both parents, reasonable accommodation must be met to allow the noncustodial parent regular visitation. Simply put, the custodial parent doesn’t have the right to just take off with the minor child. Doing so would violate their custody agreement.

Giving Notice and Getting Consent

 If the custodial parent does decide to move, they must give the noncustodial parent notice within a certain time frame before the move. The notice would most likely have to be in written form and done within a specific amount of time, usually between 30 and 90 days depending on the state in which they live. The states also require that the noncustodial parent either give their consent or object to the relocation. They would then have to file a motion to stop any relocation of the child from happening.

Basing the Custody Decision on Distance

The relocation of the child may be possible without consent if the court decides that the distance isn’t too far away. That means that they would allow the family to relocate them it’s within a certain mileage away from the other parent. For example, let’s say that’s within 100 miles, giving you permission to move within that framework. If the custodial parent wants to move the child out of state, that is certainly a major factor that would most likely prevent the relocation from being granted.

Even if you live on the border and the move is just across the state line, leaving the state might be a major concern for the judge. There are other things to consider, like where the child is going to school and the type of education that he or she may receive. The judge will act in the best interest of the child, not the parents. Moving a child completely out of state and away from one parent is usually not the best interest of that child.

Is There a Burden of Proof?

If you’re the custodial parent and you need to move or relocate to a new area, hope is not lost for you either. Certainly, there are certain circumstances in which you need to do this. In order to succeed in this area, you would need to provide the noncustodial parent statement you wrote in which it describes a good faith reason for moving. There are a lot of good reasons why moving should happen in a lot of cases.

The child might need a better emotional or social stable environment. The move might be to an area where the cost of living is much more attainable. Maybe you’re moving closer to other family members or people who can help a childcare. It can even be that you decide to go back to college or you’re about to start a new job. This can all be in the best interest of the child and the family as a whole. The court would most likely reject a bad faith move, such as the parent being selfish or trying to get revenge on the ex-spouse by moving away.

Of course, that doesn’t end the discussion. The noncustodial parent has a right to be heard and to present reasons for why the child should not be relocated away from them. The custodial parent may be able to prove that the noncustodial parent didn’t visit as often as they could’ve or became an absent parent after the divorce and as such should have the right to move to a better situation.

Visitation and Scheduling Child Custody

Just about every state has laws that state the custodial, relocating parent must make a proper and reasonable visitation schedule. Many times, this means vacations to their non-custodial parent during holidays and summer vacation. The two parents would also have to seek to modify the original court order.

If you’re unsure about the laws in your state, the best thing to do is contact a lawyer to help guide you through the process. There are a lot of good and valid reasons why you might want to move your child, as well as why you wouldn’t want your ex to take the child away from you. Whichever side of the case you’re on, contacting a lawyer is the best way to establish your rights as a parent. 

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