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My ex wants to relocate. What are child custody relocation laws?

The issue of child custody relocation typically arises when the custodial parent decides to move to another state or to a location within the state, but at a significant distance such that the non-custodial parent will be limited to a long-distance relationship with the child. Such relocation requests can interfere with the non-custodial parent's rights to visitation and parenting time.

Since a parent's relocation is a substantial change in one's circumstances, a custodial parent has to file a motion with the court in order to relocate. Reasons for relocation could be an actual job offer, better standard of living, education for the child and wanting to be closer to family members. However, the burden of proof is on the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent can object to the move and a court will look at the impact that such a move may have on the non-custodial parent's right to exercise parenting time.

If the court accepts the custodial parent's reasons for a move, then the custodial relocating parent is required to draft a visitation schedule that specifically notes when the non-custodial parent will be able to visit and what the extended holiday and break schedule will be. Travel cost also will have to be taken into account and the parties may have to split the cost. Furthermore, in a joint custody situation, the court may have to consider a whole new child custody arrangement.

As with the filing of any motion, the non-custodial parent must be given notice in writing by the custodial parent of the relocation. The non-custodial parent must consent to the move before the custodial parent can move. Courts, however, do look at the role of the non-custodial parent in the life of the child if the parent opposes the relocation. In some cases, the non-custodial parent may expressly consent to the relocation and the proposed parenting time schedule.

Given the need to move for a better job and other factors, child custody relocation issues frequently come up in family court. Such issues are unique to every case and quickly can get complex. A family law attorney familiar with relocation cases, motion filings and case law should be able to offer a concerned parent or a parent interested in relocation more information.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Relocation Laws," accessed Sept. 2, 2014

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