A few years ago the laws regarding relocation changed drastically. Formerly, there was a only a duty to file a notice of relocation if you were moving 100 miles away, and only the custodial parent had that obligation. However, now anyone who has a parenting time or visitation order (including individuals who may have grandparent or third-party visitation rights) must file and serve upon the other party a notice of intent to relocate and they must do so when ever they relocate. There is no distance restriction for this. For example, if they move to the apartment across the street they must file and serve upon the other party a notice of intent to relocate.
The notice must be filed and served 90 days before the parent intends to relocate the children, and must contain the following information: the intended address of the new residence; the home telephone number of the new residence; any other applicable telephone number for the relocating individual; the date that the relocating individual intends to move; a brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child; a proposal for a revised schedule of parenting time with the child; a statement that a parent must file an objection to the relocation of the child with the court not later than sixty (60) days after receipt of the notice; statement that a nonrelocating individual may file a petition to modify a custody order, parenting time order, grandparent visitation order, or child support order.
After filing and serving this notice the nonrelocating parent can file a motion objecting to the relocation of the children. Then, the relocation is contested and must be set for hearing.
Over the past two years the Court of Appeals has issued opinions illustrating how the relocation laws should work when applied. The most recent case ishere. The Court of Appeals described the burden in a relocation case:
If the non-relocating parent files a motion to prevent relocation, the relocating parent must first prove that the proposed relocation is made in good faith and for a legitimate reason. If this burden is met, the non-relocating parent must then prove that the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the child.
When considering whether the relocation is in the best interest of the child the court will consider the following factors:
(1) The distance involved in the proposed change of residence.
(2) The hardship and expense involved for the nonrelocating individual to
exercise parenting time or grandparent visitation.
(3) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating
individual and the child through suitable parenting time and grandparent
visitation arrangements, including consideration of the financial circumstances
of the parties.
(4) Whether there is an established pattern of conduct by the relocating
individual, including actions by the relocating individual to either promote or
thwart a nonrelocating individual‘s contact with the child.
(5) The reasons provided by the:
(A) relocating individual for seeking relocation; and
(B) nonrelocating parent for opposing the relocation of the child.
While the new relocation laws are complex and onerous, the effect of the law has been positive in that relocations must now be litigated before they occur. Furthermore, the procedure involved is now well-defined.
If you are going to be involved in a relocation or custody dispute you need an attorney. In this case the Court of Appeals stated:
We encourage parties facing issues involving the custody of children to obtain counsel to aid in the litigation of custody disputes. Because the court's order has such a profound effect on the lives of the parties and their children, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of presenting sufficient evidence and developing an adequate record.
For more on information on custody or relocation disputes, see all custody blog entries here.