Being offered a new job or starting fresh in a new town sound like exciting opportunities. However, it can be a problematic situation for those with custody orders in place. Even when a custodial parent is seeking to relocate with their child that lives primarily or only with them, a non-custodial parent may take action to preserve his or her visitation rights, presenting issues for the parent that seeks to relocate.
In parental relocation matters, absent an agreement between the parents, the courts will look at certain factors when determining whether or not to allow for relocation. Specifically, a judge will determine if the move is contrary or in the best interests of the child.
When relocating with a child, a custodial parent will likely need consent. This could come in the form of express consent. This is when there is an agreement between the parents in place, allowing for relocation and proving a proposed visitation schedule. Consent can also be established by giving notice. If a parent gives notice to a noncustodial parent within a certain time period, consent could be granted. However, noncustodial parents could file a motion to prevent relocation after receiving notice.
A custodial parent has the burden to prove that they have a good faith reason for their intended move. This means that if the move will disrupt the child's school, emotional and social stability, there must be a good faith reasons. This can include better cost of living, wanting to be closer to one's family to help with child care responsibilities, a new job offer or to continue one's education. This also means that there cannot be bad faith reasons for the move, such as revenge or retaliation.
One should note that the court may consider the noncustodial parent's reason for objecting to the relocation. In matters where the objecting parent has not exercised his or her visitation rights or has been an absent parent, the court is likely to rule in favor of the custodial parent and allow the move.
Dealing with parental relocation or any custody issue can be emotional and complex. Thus, it is important to understand your situation and what options are available to you. This not only helps to better protect your rights but also the best interests of your child as well.