When two parents make a custody agreement, it can be hard to envision all of the changes that can occur throughout their child's life. One of the most potentially contentious issues that can arise is a custodial parent wanting or needing to move out of state. Typically, a custodial parent cannot move out of state with a child without the court's approval. Here are some of the factors a court will consider when faced with a motion for relocation.
Benefits of a move
Generally, the custodial parent will want to show how the move stands to benefit the child, not the parent. For example, the court will consider whether the move will provide valuable educational or occupational opportunities for the child, whether the move will bring the child closer to extended family, and whether the move would facilitate an improved lifestyle for the child.
Disruption of a move
The custodial parent will also want to show that the disruption of a move does not outweigh its benefits. Among other things, the court will consider whether the non-custodial parent's relationship with the child will be significantly damaged by the move. If the non-custodial parent is not involved in the child's life or exercising his or her visitation rights, the court will be less likely to weigh the disruption to the non-custodial parent's relationship with the child.
Coming to an agreement
In some cases, parents may come to an out-of-court agreement regarding relocation. If the move is not very far away, the non-custodial parent may agree to a move. The court would still have to approve any change in the custody agreement before it would become final and enforceable.
What happens when the custodial parent wants to move out of state will depend on a number of factors that can differ from state to state. Additionally, the burden of proof varies depending on the state. Some require the non-custodial parent to prove that the move would be detrimental, whereas others require the custodial parent to prove that the move would be beneficial. If you are considering moving out of state as a custodial parent, contact an experienced family law attorney. A case involving a move is highly complex, especially when the non-custodial parent wants to fight the relocation.