When a divorced couple has a child custody order in place, there may be a circumstance where the custodial parent wants to move. This may be to pursue a job opportunity, to relocate closer to family or friends or to be near a new school district.
Many child custody orders address relocation and state that the custodial parent must live in a certain geographical region. If the child custody order does not address relocation, the custodial parent must ask the court for permission to relocate. It’s helpful for the custodial parent to have written confirmation from the non-custodial parent consenting to the relocation as well.
Child’s best interest
The court will consider several factors in deciding whether the relocation is in the child’s best interest. It may review the parent’s reason for seeking the relocation, the quality of the child’s relationship with each parent and the impact the relocation will have on the child’s contact with the other parent and their siblings, if applicable.
It may also consider how the relocation could improve the child’s life financially, emotionally and educationally and how it may affect other visitation arrangements.
If the court does not find that the move is in the child’s best interest, it may require the custodial parent to stay in the state. A court may also object to the move if it is intended as retaliation against the other parent, for example.
If the other parent objects to the move, the court may also review whether the objecting parent regularly exercised their visitation rights or was otherwise an absent parent.
It’s important that the relocation process is completed correctly. An experienced attorney can assist parents with their questions about this issue and related child custody matters.