Featured News 2018 Can I Move? When Divorced Parents Need To Relocate

Can I Move? When Divorced Parents Need To Relocate

Courts recognize that visitation agreements may need to be changed after the divorce is final. The most common reason? When a custodial parent needs to relocate. The relocation may be necessary because of a job, family, or a new relationship, but whatever the reason, ex-spouses with joint custody need to agree to new terms. A parent can't simply pick up and move whenever they wish—a relocation petition must be made to the court.

There may already be terms listed in the current agreement that bar either parent from moving a certain number of miles away. The parent wishing to make the move has the burden to prove that their move would be beneficial to the child and not cause them harm. A petition for parental relocation ultimately hinges on the best interests of the child. The argument, at its barest, is this: "Parent X, who has custody of the Child, must relocate—and it is in the best interests of the Child to stay with Parent X, and not Parent Y." If the judge finds that the move is not in the best interest of the child, then the petition will not be granted.

Other Considerations in the Child's Interests

Both parents' relationships with their child will be evaluated. Each parent is responsible for arguing how the child's relationship with them would benefit as a result of the move (or as a result of staying). If the child's relationship to one of the parents will be harmed as a result of the relocation and that parent has a good relationship with the child, then the petition to relocate will not likely be granted. If there are no suitable means for the child to visit the other parent as a result of the move, then any petition—short of the child's life being at risk–is unlikely to succeed.

It might seem restrictive, but these rules exist because the government recognizes that children need both parents in their lives. Having two parents has significant impact on a child's mental health, school performance, and emotional wholeness well into adulthood. A parent always has the right to petition for relocation, but they must notify the other parent at least 60 days beforehand. Those 60 days is the time allotted for the other parent to contest the relocation if they so desire. A hearing will only be held if the other parent contests.

Life is always changing, and sometimes it takes you in a direction you didn't expect. If life is taking an unexpected turn and is causing you to relocate, then you need to think about all your options. If you are divorced and have joint custody of your child or children, the ability to move as you please is limited by your ex-spouse. If you know your child's other parent will contest your petition to relocate, then it's time to consult a lawyer.

Reclaiming control of your and your child's destinies starts with preparing your case. Your spouse will likely hire a lawyer to contest the petition—it's only fair to bring a lawyer with you to court as well.

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