Our society has become increasingly mobile over the past several decades. As a result, parents often seek to relocate away from the other parent after custody has been determined. Such relocations can wreak havoc on family relationships.
Importance of Fighting Relocation
Since the laws vary broadly, it is extremely important for a parent seeking to prevent relocation with children to know, understand and follow the detailed rules to prevent that relocation. If the custodial parent fails to follow the rules, it can often result in a change in custody. State laws often spell out requirements which may include:
- Notification and Objection
A parent seeking to relocate must generally notify the other parent well in advance of a move. The timelines for that notification are specified in many state laws. Those same laws also provide specific instructions regarding the information that must be included in the notification. In states that require notification, the other parent may also usually file an objection to the relocation or file a Motion seeking to prevent the relocation
- Consent and Order
Yet other states require not only notification, but consent of the other parent to allow the move. In the event the both parents do not consent, often the parent seeking to relocate most bring a motion seeking permission of the court. This often would include a request for a change in custody.
Often state statutes spell out factors that a court must consider when determining whether to allow children to relocate away from one parent. Some factors courts consider when making determinations to allow or disallow a move include:
- The relative strength, nature, quality, extent of involvement, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life.
- Prior agreements in divorce decrees or orders of the parties. Such agreements are often given great deference.
- Whether the relocation would substantially interfere with the other parent's relationship with the child and the extent of thar interference.
- Whether the benefit of the relocation outweighs any harm caused by the relocation.
- The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation and whether the request is made in good faith or is intended to interfere with the other parent's rights.
- The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child.
- The quality of life, resources, and opportunities available to the child and to the relocating party in the current and proposed geographic locations.
- The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent.
- The financial impact of the relocation as it relates to parenting time including the cost of travel.
Impact and Conclusion
One truism is that if the Court allows the relocation, it often requires the party moving to pay more of the transportation costs related to visitation. This cost issue should be raised in any hearing as well as a request to change custody if the parent responsible for the transportation contemptuously fails to follow the court's orders. In the even the non-custodial parent does not prevail, a finding in that regard may change those fortunes if the moving parent fails to follow through on their obligations.