Removal / Relocations in Divorce Cases- Moving a Child Away From the Mother or Father
In most states you must obtain a court order prior to moving with a child. Court decisions are most often based on the "best interest" of the child or children. Courts nationwide differ on how they approach these "best interest" standards and how to prove them. In general, the courts will look at the continuity and stability of the original custody agreements. In addition, they may look at the harm that may come about from the deviation from the child's patterns of past care. If the case is litigated the court may look at some of these additional factors:
- Was relocation discussed in the divorce agreement?
- If the child is at the age of maturity, what do they think of the relocation?
- Does the child have special needs? Will these needs be meet in the new location?
- Will the quality of the child's education be consistent with their current system?
- Is the move intended to disrupt the current parenting schedules? What is the reason or intent for the move?
- How will the move affect the parental visitation rights?
- Will the new visitation schedule disrupt the child and parent left behind from developing and maintaining and growing a strong relationship?
Every state requires notification to the ex-spouse before relocation. Check with the state laws where the litigation is to take place in order to determine when to supply sufficient notice of relocation. Failure to meet these requirements will not look favorable for the relocating parent. Failure to provide notice could be viewed as an attempt to exclude the child from the non-relocating parent; in addition, the judge may order the return of the child. In general, decisions involving children should be shared between both parents.
If there is no agreement between parents on the relocation, or there is no agreement to the changes to the visitation arrangement, the case will be brought in front of a judge. The relocating parent must prove that the move will be in the best interest of the child.