Custody arrangements are not uncommon after divorce. It works well to keep the best interests of both parents, especially if they live nearby. However, the arrangements get complicated when the custodial parent wishes to relocate, making visitation hard for the noncustodial parent.
If you want to relocate your child after divorce due to a valid reason, you need a court order that allows you to relocate with your child. However, acquiring relocation permission from the court can be tough, and the following considerations need to be weighed.
What Are the Custody and Relocation Rules?
To seek a court’s order that allows the custodial parent to move with their child generally requires both parents to agree on a neutral ground. The divorced parents need to follow the shared custodial arrangement that binds them with custodial rules. After an agreement is reached, they need to sign a stipulation and state their consents.
If the court decides that the move is in the child’s best interest, the judge will grant them an upgraded custody agreement. However, reaching an agreement is usually not that straightforward due to the different conditions of both parents.
Reasons to Relocate My Child After Divorce
The type of child custody you have will determine how the court proceeds with your case. For noncustodial parents, it is generally hard to accept their children are moving away from them. There can be many complications such as increased commute time, additional travel costs. In some cases, the child wanting to stay close to the noncustodial parent is also a complication.
The custody laws vary state by state. However, every court prioritizes the need of every individual involved in the case, depending on the initial custody agreement. To fairly serve the noncustodial parent’s plea, it is important for the court to judge the intent behind the reason for moving.
Good intent behind reasons for moving include:
- Moving closer to family members for support and nourishment
- To seek better job opportunities
- To seek better education. This can apply to you and your child’s education. The custodial parent can relocate for better education, leading to better opportunities for the child.
- General purposes (new/better home, facilities, environmental change) can also be considered if the visitation is not affected greatly.
Bad Intents include:
- Just to move away from the noncustodial parent
- To increase hardships for the noncustodial parent
- To reduce child support
Determining the Child’s Best Interest
The court’s decision is based on what’s best for the child. Although the custodial parent’s reasons to relocate are considered, it does not entirely affect the court’s decision. The court only grants relocation permission if the new location serves the betterment of the child.
If the judge sees otherwise, the custodial parent can attempt to convince the court that moving to a certain situation will only enhance or maintain the child’s experience. The standards of a child’s best interests vary from state to state.
In general, these are the factors about the new location that the court considers to allow custodial relocation:
- What is the quality of schools?
- Are there any family members nearby?
- How it affects the child’s health and safety?
- What are the custodial parent’s reasons for relocating?
- How it affects the custodial parent’s ability to support the child financially?
- What does the child want?
- How does it affect the overall standard of living of your child?
- Will your child have access to sufficient technology to communicate with the noncustodial parent smoothly?
- The ability of the noncustodial parent to visit the child
The ability of the non-custodial parent to have smooth visitation is given imminent importance. However, if the relocation allows the child to have better educational opportunities, and a growth-oriented environment, then the visitation and mobility of the non-custodial parent may be overlooked.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The processing time for your case truly depends on the type of custody you have, where you live, and where you have filed the case. Depending on the state, you can get the hearing date sooner or later. There is no way to determine the processing time.
However, you can try not to delay the process by properly coordinating with the other parent and bringing along all the required documents on the court date.
How to Win a Relocation Custody Case
Relocating your child after divorce needs you to abide by the laws of your state that protect yours, your child’s, and the noncustodial parent. Things can get tricky for you if the noncustodial parent does not provide their consent. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t move.
You can follow these steps to strengthen the case in your favor.
- Inform the other parent about your intention to relocate
- If the other parent agrees and gives you consent, you can consult your lawyer to help you process the documentation and submit it to the court.
- In case you don’t get consent from the other parent, consider mediation.
- If mediation fails, you can file a petition in court and request the court to give you a permit.
It can feel frustrating and a violation of your free will when you have to abide by rules that will determine whether or not you can relocate. However, the laws are only there to protect and maintain stability in the child’s life. However, due to the differing laws in every state, it is best to talk to a family lawyer to best understand the child relocation laws in your state.
Remember that a reason can be valid, but if the court sees it negatively impacting the child, it will be very difficult for you to acquire permission to move. The best way to create a mutual understanding between you and the other parent is to agree on good terms when initially agreeing to shared custody.