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Can the Custodial Parent Move a Child Out of the State?

The law requires courts to set forth child custody arrangements based on the child’s best interest. If it is the court that must make the arrangements on behalf of the parents, that is the primary determining factor in what sort of arrangement they will enforce.

When a custodial parent must move beyond an agreed upon radius clause and the noncustodial parent objects and does not consent, the court determine if they will grant permission for the custodial parent to move with a child(ren) especially if the move is a long distance or out of the state.

Handling a long-distance move

Parents are able to agree on a relocation. If both parents consent to the move and the child moves with the custodial parent, they can revise their own custody arrangement to account for the new circumstances. They will still need to sign a written agreement that the judge will be able to incorporate into a court order. Often times, there are modifications to child support to account for the cost and expense of travel for the non custodial parent. If there is not a modification, the cost of travel is normally paid for by the moving parent.

However, if parents do not agree, the process becomes more complicated. The relocating custodial parent must notify their co-parent prior to the move, and if an agreement is not reached, the court will decide if the relocation can take place. A custodial parent who moves to a new home without court permission could be punished with sanctions including contempt orders and adverse revisions to the custody arrangements. In addition, if a move is made without consent of a parent or the court, the non moving parent will be granted a restraining order which will prohibit the child from relocating until a court can determine same. The burden is on the moving parent to demonstrate that the move is not contrary to a child’s best interests. The Court will largely consider the impact the move has on the non custodial parent’s parenting time.

One way to address a relocation conflict is to work with a mediator first. If mediation is ineffective, you might consult with your attorney about filing a petition for relocation or opposing your co-parent’s filing. In that case, the court will conduct a proceeding to determine if the relocation is in the best interest of that child.

If you are the non moving parent and become aware of the custodial parent’s plans to relocate, you should immediately retain counsel to protect your rights and the rights of the child.

This process can be quite complicated, so it is important to have an attorney you can trust by your side in this process. For more information, contact an experienced divorce lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.