Child Relocation

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Can a Parent Move a Child Out of State After the Court Enters a Custody Order?


After a custody order is entered, a parent cannot unilaterally decide to move the child out of state or more than a specific number of miles within the state, even if that parent has a valid reason to move. Since the move will interfere with the other parent’s custody or parenting time rights, the law requires that certain actions be taken before the child is relocated.

The parties, of course, may enter an agreement authorizing the relocation. Such agreements typically provide for a long-distance parenting time for the party who does not move.

In the absence of an agreement, the parent who wishes to relocate can follow the statutory notice procedure. Essentially, the party who wants to move must give the other party a timely notice. The other parent then can file a petition in court to prevent the relocation if he or she so desires.

As an alternative to the statutory notice provision, the parent wishing to relocate a child may file a petition in court for authorization to move the child and then go through a hearing. This procedure permits the issue to be decided in an orderly manner before the moving plans are made.

Requests to relocate children are not granted automatically, even if the parent who is moving is the more active in parenting the child. The court must consider the best interests of the child in light of facts then in existence. The court typically weighs the benefits of the move (e.g., better job, etc.) against loss to the parent who is not moving (e.g., loss of parenting time).

If a relocation is approved, the court may impose new orders regarding parenting time. The parent who moves may be ordered to pay the cost of transporting the child for the other party’s parenting time; the parent who did not move may be awarded more summer and holiday time, etc.


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