When a divorced or separated parent who has custody of the children wants to relocate, it's usually hard on everyone involved. If the court allows the move and the parent relocates far enough away, the children may lose regular contact with the non-custodial parent.
To minimize the hardship on both parents as well as the children, every state has laws addressing parental relocation. The custodial parent must persuade the court that the move will improve the lives of the children. Receiving permission to relocate often requires the help of an attorney.
The Relocating Parent Must Give Notice
The rules concerning relocation vary greatly from state to state. In some states, a custodial parent who wants to relocate must give the other parent advance written notice. A few states have time limits for the notice, usually from 45 days to two months before the move. Once notified, the non-custodial parent then has a certain amount of time to object.
Geography Plays an Important Role
Some states require notice if a custodial parent wants to relocate beyond a certain distance, usually more than 60 miles. Other states prohibit moves across state lines without notice to the non-custodial parent, and some states enforce a combination of both limits. You might be able to move 100 miles if you remain in the same state, for example, but not 15 miles if you cross state lines. Many states have no geographical limitations at all.
Moving May Require a Trial
When a non-custodial parent objects to the move, the court will schedule a hearing to decide whether to give the custodial parent permission to leave. Most states take parental relocation very seriously. Judges generally will not make a decision without testimony and evidence.
The Relocating Parent Must Have a Good Reason
It's far easier to receive court permission to move in some states than in others. Depending on where you live, the court may lean toward allowing you to relocate, as long as you can prove that the move will benefit your child. A handful of states tend to rule the opposite way. In these courts, a judge might even switch custody to the parent who is staying behind so the children are not uprooted. No matter where you live, you must usually prove to the judge that you are not moving in an attempt to separate your children from the non-custodial parent. Most states also require a parenting plan, explaining how your children and the non-custodial parent will stay in touch after the move.
A Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding divorce, custody and relocation is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.