Wail Sarieh
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How Does a Court Decide if a Parent May Relocate with a Child?

Child Custody

There are numerous circumstances that may require a custodial parent to relocate post-divorce – from economic reasons to remarriage. When a parent is considering a move, but that move will disrupt their current custody arrangement in a way that may be detrimental to the relationship of the child and other parent, a substantial change in that custody arrangement may be warranted.

This is because the courts must always consider the best interests of the child – including timeshare and how each parent is exercising their time with their child. A move away to another state or even overseas must be considered by the courts. The court will want to assess how such a move will impact each parent’s time with the child.

Things the Court Will Consider

In general, the courts will consider two circumstances when assessing a move away situation.

First, consider the situation in which one parent has sole physical custody of the child, and the non-custodial parent sees the child infrequently. In this situation, the custodial parent may wish to move, but the non-custodial parent may object. If so, the non-custodial parent would then need to hold an evidentiary hearing to prove to the court that the move would be detrimental to their relationship with their child. The court may deny the non-custodial parent’s request to modify even without an evidentiary hearing (Marriage of Brown & Yana, 2006). If the non-custodial parent’s allegation of detriment is unsubstantiated in light of other evidence present in the case, the courts do not have to give the non-custodial parent an evidentiary hearing.

The second situation is when both parents have frequent contact with the child, or a regular visitation schedule is exercised fully. In these instances, the court may presume the move to be detrimental to the child, and they are more likely to order a custody evaluation or a custody modification.

Tips for Moving as a Custodial Parent

  • Do not move out of spite. Instead, show that the move is in good faith, so that, during a court analysis, you have proof that your move benefits the livelihood of the family and is not specifically meant to limit the other parent’s time with the child.
  • Read your custody paperwork. Typically your paperwork will dictate rules regarding relocations over 150 miles and how to handle such moves. You may be obligated to give written notice within a set number of days or even provide funding for transportation.
  • Give the non-custodial parent notice in writing and provide them with as much time as possible. The more time you give, the better, especially if your case goes to court.
  • Create a detailed custodial plan for post-move that gives the non-custodial parent time with the child, such as more time during the child’s holiday or summer breaks. Consider offering airfare so that the non-custodial parent can come visit, and prove that you are not working to limit the child’s contact with their other parent.
  • Have your attorney file an Order to Show Cause to obtain a move away order so that you are not waiting for the other parent to do so.

If you need to relocate and you are the custodial parent of your child, speak with a family law attorney at Sarieh Law Offices regarding your potential move. We can assist you with your Show Cause hearing and represent your interests for moving. Call for a free consultation at 714-542-6200, or fill out an online contact form.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh