Relocation and Child Custody

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

I Have Physical Custody of My Child, But My Former Spouse has Visitation Rights. Can I Move Out of State?

Whether a parent can move out of state with his or her child depends on the law of that state and the particulars of the situation. Generally, courts focus on determining what is in the best interests of the child; the key variable is whether the state places the burden on the custodial or non-custodial parent to prove what would be in the child's best interest.

Most states will allow the custodial parent to move with the child as long as the move is in the child's overall best interests. Beneficial interests may include better schools, more disposable income (through a better job for the parent), or emotional benefits such as living close to other family members.

What Does a Court Consider to Determine the Child's Best Interest?

No matter which side is tasked with the burden of proof, the courts attempt to balance the right of the custodial parent to move freely, the best interest of the child in the specific circumstances, and the right of the non-custodial parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child.

The court considers whether:

My Former Spouse has Physical Custody of Our Child, but I Have Visitation Rights. Can My Former Spouse Move Out of State with Our Child?

The answer to this question depends on the law of the state where your former spouse lives with the child and the particulars of your situation. Generally speaking, most states will allow the custodial parent to move out of state with the child, provided that the move is in the best interests of the child, considering the factors that are listed above. If facing this situation, the non-custodial parent should go to court immediately.

Do I Need a Family Lawyer for My Child Custody Issue?

If you or your former spouse is considering relocating with your child, it would be wise to consult with a family lawyer. Working with an experienced family lawyer can help you understand your rights and help you deal with the complicated legal system.

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Last Modified: 07-16-2014 10:33 AM PDT

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