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Relocating a child out of state in Minnesota

Posted by attorney Kathryn Lammers

I get a lot of questions about whether the custodial parent can move a child out of state without the other parent’s permission. In Minnesota, the parent with custody who wishes to move must first obtain the permission of the other parent or get the Court’s permission.

In 2006 the law changed say to a parent cannot relocate out of the state with a minor child unless that parent has one of two things:

  1. Consent of the other parent, if that parent has been given parenting time by an order or decree; or
  2. An order of the court allowing the relocation.

As a result, it is the responsibility of the parent seeking to relocate out of state to file a Motion to get an Order allowing that parent to relocate before doing so.

A failure to follow proper procedure creates a serious risk that the parent who does not want the child to move may seek an ex parte order changing custody immediately pending a hearing on the relocation issue.

Under Minnesota law, whether or not a parent can move out of state is based on what is in the best interests of the child. The factors the court must consider in determining the child's best interests include, but are not limited to:

  1. the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child's relationship with the person proposing to relocate and with the non-relocating person, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life;
  2. who has been the child’s primary caregiver;
  3. the age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child's physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration special needs of the child;
  4. the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating person and the child through suitable parenting time arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties;
  5. the child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child;
  6. whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the person seeking the relocation either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the non-relocating person;
  7. whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of the life for both the custodial parent seeking the relocation and the child including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity;
  8. the reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation; and
  9. the effect on the safety and welfare of the child, or of the parent requesting to move the child's residence, of domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01.

The burden of proof is on the parent requesting to move the residence of the child to another state, except that if the court finds that the person requesting permission to move has been a victim of domestic abuse by the other parent, the burden of proof is upon the parent opposing the move.

When making their decision whether or not to allow the move, the court will look at the reasons the parent wants to move, such as employment or family connections. In particular, be prepared to show:

  1. Whether the move would result in a better quality of life your children;
  2. The extent to which your ex currently exercises his right to spend time with the children;
  3. That you are willing to allow for longer, less frequent visits if your request to move out of state is approved;
  4. That you will actively support such changes in the visitation schedule;
  5. That you are prepared to absorb the increased cost of transportation;
  6. And that your move is not an attempt to restrict the other parent’s access to the children

The Court will consider the impact this move out of state will have on your children. It is entirely possible that the benefits of increased pay, or closer proximity to extended family members, do not outweigh the benefits your children enjoy right now as a result of a consistent, ongoing, in-person relationship with their other parent.

Ultimately, the court will make its decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.

There are remedies available if your child has been moved out of state without your permission or a court order.

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