Child Custody and Relocation

Child Custody and Relocation

After a divorce, the former spouses may feel the need to change things up in order to move on with their lives and close a chapter that in some cases is often painful. The parent who has custody of the child may want to move to another state to pursue new opportunities in employment or even a new relationship.

These kinds of life changes can shake up even the most friendly custody situations as a non-custodial parent is faced with the possibility of not seeing his or her child regularly, or having to incur the costs of going to visit the child in the new home. On the other hand, the non-custodial parent may get longer periods of visitation time, such as during school breaks and other long holidays. However, the child stands to lose vital weekly interaction with the non-custodial parent, as well as connections to other family members and friends and will have to change schools after the move.

The Best Interests of the Child

According to State law, it is important for a court to consider the best interests of the child before deciding whether or not to allow a parent to move with the child. While a child’s weekly interactions with the non-custodial parent may be beneficial to him or her, in some cases, it is in the child’s best interest to be allowed to move. The court has to consider this interest while taking into account the right of the custodial parent to move and start a new life elsewhere. The factors, established that the court considers in making the decision, include the following:

  • The custodial parent’s reasons for relocating and the non-custodial parent’s reasons for being against the move
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • How the move will affect the child emotionally, educationally or socially
  • How often the non-custodial parent will be able to visit
  •  How the move will affect the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent

Ultimately, the court can either allow the move and permit the non-custodial parent extra visitation time; or switch custody to the non-custodial parent if they are willing to and capable of becoming the custodial parent. The court cannot order the custodial parent to stay in the state and would most likely not want to place such restrictions on the parent. The parent is essentially left with the choice of leaving and losing custody or just abandoning the move altogether and remaining the custodial parent.

Contacting a Family Attorney

If you are a non-custodial parent and are facing the challenge of your child’s possible relocation to another state, you need to consult with a qualified and experienced attorney who can advise you on the way forward. If you are the custodial parent and would like to relocate with your child, contacting a law firm can help your move be less stressful and in compliance with the law.