Featured News 2013 When a Custodial Parent Wants to Move to Another State

When a Custodial Parent Wants to Move to Another State

When child custody is determined in a divorce or separation, the custody arrangement has to be deemed in the child's best interests. This often means that both parents will share legal custody, enabling them both to be involved in making choices for their child when it comes to upbringing, education, medical treatment, and more. Physical custody, on the other hand, will probably be split less evenly, again, according to the child's best interests and state law parameters. A child custody court order can be issued in a couple of different ways, with either the judge deciding outright for everyone involved, or with the parents first arriving at an agreement that a judge approves of. In many cases, one parent will be designated the custodial parent, the one with primary custody, meaning that the child will live most of the time with them. The non-custodial parent will have visitation rights.

So what happens when the custodial parent wants to move? The non-custodial parent will not want to miss opportunities to visit their child, and they can object to the relocation. After all, the court deemed it to be in the child's best interests to continue their relationship with both parents. If the non-custodial parent puts up opposition to the move, then the parents will have to go to court to resolve the matter. As it is, a child cannot be relocated out of their state without requesting this move from a court, the same court that gave the child custody orders. In fact, if a custodial parent moves with the child to a different state without getting this move approved in court first, overriding the non-custodial parent's objections, then the court could hold the custodial parent in contempt, which is punishable by a jail sentence and fines.

Now, it is possible that both parents could agree to the move, in which case matters will go much smoother. The parents could agree to get a move-away order by signing a stipulation and consent agreement, then running this by a judge to get approved. When parents are at odds on this issue, however, they could work with a court mediator, who will try to facilitate an agreement. If these meetings fall through, then the parents could bring their case before a court.

When this matter is before a judge, there will be state laws to abide by when it comes to move-away orders. What will weigh most heavily on a judge's mind, however, is figuring out whether the child's best interests are served by moving away or by still enabling the non-custodial parent to exercise their visitation rights. Often, the reason that would successfully justify the move would be something along the lines of the custodial parent getting a new job or job promotion. If the custodial parent is moving to be nearer to their extended family, then this could connect the child with relatives who will further provide additional care. Perhaps the move will open up chances for better education for the child. And of course, if the custodial parent is remarrying, then a judge can be swayed to enable the child to join the new family unit.

On the non-custodial parent's side, however, is the fact that staying would provide the child with greater stability, and of course, time with both of their parents. However, there are enough states where it is up to the non-custodial parent to prove that the move is not in the child's best interests, as the preset position of those court's is to assume that moving with the custodial parent is best for the child.

In a scenario where parents cannot reach an agreement on this issue, then it is likely in you and your family's best interests to work with an experienced family law attorney, someone who can help you arrive at a fair and peaceful resolution. Find the lawyer you need on our family law directory today!

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