Historically, moving out of the jurisdiction where custody was established without the consent of the noncustodial parent was not permited for two primary reasons:
- the original state of jurisdiction would lose jurisdiction; and
- the noncustodial parent would have an obstacle in maintaining a significant relationship with the child(ren).
Changes in family laws and the custodial parent’s right to travel and move freely have since altered the landscape and have resulted in a trend more friendly to the custodial parents’ right to relocate.
The laws and principles generally governing relocation of a custodial parent will also apply to the relocation of a custodial parent to another country. Since custody matters are left to the states, each state will differ in their treatment of custodial relocation.
The current trend being adopted by states is to permit relocation unless the move is prompted by bad faith, maliciousness, or an intent to keep the child from the noncustodial parent. Nonetheless, there are three approaches taken by the states to determine whether or not to allow the custodial parent to relocate:
- Some states maintain the traditional view that relocation should not be permitted unless doing so is in the best interests of the child. The criteria for determing whether or not relocation is in the best interest is stringent and usually requires a substantial showing that the quality of life for both the child and custodial parent are improved.
- Other states have adopted the trend to permit relocation unless it is shown that the relocation will have the effect of hurting the child.
- Finally, a few states are taking each relocation on a case-by-case basis to determine the best interests of the child and assess whether relocation should be permitted.
This will depend on the state you currently reside and the country in which you seek to relocate. Countries such as Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean countries may be easier to relocate to than states within the United States if the other country is a neighbor to the original state. Some states, however, may base their decision not to permit relocation if the move would effectively deprive the noncustodial parent of the opportunity to visit the child.
Depending on the approach taken by the state, a noncustodial parent may have several remedies including demonstrating that relocation is not in the best interest of the child or requesting that the custodial order be modified or changed to reflect custody to the noncustodial parent.
Custodial disputes are very complicated and without the consent of the noncustodial parent, relocation to another country will be difficult depending upon the state which custody was established. Hiring a child custody lawyer will assist in understanding the approach taken by the state, and if relocation is permitted, under what circumstances may it be granted.