Civil Law

Sometimes a job necessitates an out-of-state move or perhaps wanting to relocate closer to the family. When it is a custodial parent who wants to move out of state with a child, they must look at the custody agreement and the laws in place in the state where they live. If the non-custodial parent objects to the move because of how it affects visitation, the court looks to the best interests of the child to determine whether or not the relocation is allowed to take place.

The laws regarding relocation and child custody are different from state to state. There may be a certain amount of advance notice required and the requirements for consent need to be followed.

Consent and Notice  

Written notice is usually required and given to the noncustodial parent when the other parent wishes to relocate. There is a specific time period, usually one to three months prior to the intended move in which to submit the request. In some states, the noncustodial parent is required to either agree to the move or file a motion that seeks to prevent the relocation.

Express Consent

In many states, the only way a child custody relocation is permitted is if there is already a provision in the custody agreement that specifically talks about consenting to relocation and a suggested schedule for visitation. This provision is written into the original child custody documents during the custody proceedings.

Distance May Determine Relocation

Consult with a family law attorney about any restrictions to relocating based on the distance to the new location. Some states will approve or disapprove the relocation because of the number of miles to the new location — even if it is in the same state. Other states look at any relocation out of state as significant and may not approve the move even if it just across the border into another state.

Valid Reasons Necessary to Relocate

The court always places the best interests of the child first in any situation, and relocation is no different. Many states require the relocating parent to submit a statement listing a ‘good faith’ reason for moving, especially if the move changes the child’s routine, friends, school, etc. Reasons that are considered ‘good faith’ include:

  • Accepting a job offer in another town/state
  • Enrolling in an education program
  • Moving closer to the family who can assist with taking care of child/children
  • Relocating to an area where the cost of living is more affordable

A custodial parent could be denied permission to relocate if the reason is to take the child further away from the noncustodial parent as a form of retaliation.

On the other hand, the court may be more likely to approve a relocation if the noncustodial parent was lax in their visitation rights.

Talk with a Family Law Attorney

If you are a custodial parent and are considering relocating and have questions about the procedure and laws in your state, contact an experienced family law attorney knowledgeable about the relocation custody laws in your state.