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How Parent Relocation Affects Child Custody Orders

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How Can I Move If There Is a Child Custody Order?

Divorced or separated parents often need to move for economic or personal reasons. Problems arise when the move would interfere with the parents’ custody and visitation schedule.

Courts favor custody orders that allow both parents to maintain frequent and continuing contact with the children. In deciding whether to move, you should first think about all the ways a move may affect your children.

Initial Steps after You Decide to Move

If you decide to move, consider these suggestions:

  • Understand your motives for moving. Courts will not look favorably on you if it appears that your intended move is designed to interfere with the remaining parent’s visitation rights.
  • Review the order carefully to see whether your move would make the current parenting schedule impractical.
  • Prepare a plan that would allow the remaining parent to have frequent and continuing contact with the children. This may include giving the remaining parent substantial visitation during summer or extended school breaks.
  • Give the remaining parent written notice of the move. Your custody order or your state’s laws may require this.
  • Consult with an attorney about the potential benefits of filing your own motion to obtain a move away order rather than waiting for the remaining parent to file a motion.

What the Court Considers When Granting Move Away Orders

When a court decides custody orders, generally, the overarching concern is the “best interests” of the children.

In most states, if you are the custodial parent, you have a presumptive right to relocate with your children. If the remaining parent disagrees with the move, he or she must persuade the court that the move would be detrimental to the children’s welfare.

In determining whether a move would be detrimental to the children’s welfare, a court will usually look at:

  • The children’s ages
  • Their community ties
  • Any special health and educational needs
  • If appropriate, the preferences of the children

If the court finds that the move would be harmful to the children, this may be considered a significant change in circumstances justifying a modification of the custody order.

Should I Hire an Attorney If I Plan to Relocate to a Different State?

Moving can have a profound effect on your children. An experienced family law attorney can help you present the right evidence to give you the best chance of obtaining your objective.

Photo of page author Brandon Rose

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 07-16-2014 10:27 AM PDT

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