How to Handle Move Aways
A custodial parent has to get the consent of the other parent to move with the child. Consent is required if the move is to another area in the state or out of state. This issue typically arises when the custodial parent gets a new job or is remarried. If the other parent is unwilling to consent to the move, the custodial parent will need to take the matter to court to request a move away order.
Parents who submit move away requests must be prepared to address multiple concerns including the impact of the move on the child as well as the affect of the move on visitation rights of the other parent. There must be a justifiable reason behind the move. The child’s best interest is the focal point of the issue for the court.
If at all possible, try to get the consent of the other parent to allow the move. At minimum, the parent who wishes to move is legally required to notify the other parent of their desire to move. This notification must take place before filing a move away request with the courts. Include with the notification a proposed schedule for visitation since it is unlikely the current schedule can be maintained.
Proceed with filing the move away request if the other parent is unwilling to support your move and proposed change to visitation. The only time a custodial parent is not required to file a move away request is if they already have an order from the court that allows them to move without getting consent from the non-custodial parent. In most family law courts, preference is given to the requests made by custodial parents. Even so, custodial parents must clearly show the court that the move is in the child’s best interest.
The court will consider how both parents are raising the child and decide which has the most stabilizing influence on the child. This includes looking at the educational opportunities provided at the current school and the new school the child will enroll in after the move. Neighborhoods will also be compared to make sure the new community is a safe alternative for the child. Move away orders are easier to get if the move is to a better community.
Do not assume that since you are the custodial parent your move away request will automatically be granted. File the request in advance of your planned move. Give yourself sufficient time to address any concerns the court may have about the move. If the court denies your request, you will need to decide if you still want to move. If you do, you will need to relinquish custody of your child to the other parent.
It can be expensive if the other parent contests your move away request. For this reason alone, spend time with the other parent to come to an agreement that allows the other parent to retain as much contact with your child so the move can be approved. This is much easier today because parents can have daily video and online communication with children regardless of their location. Parents can maintain bonds with their children even if they live in another state. Summer and holiday visitation schedules can increase for the non-custodial parent as a compromise to a move away request.
You should never move away if you are in the middle of a custody dispute. The court may not view this as being in the child’s best interest and it can impact your custodial rights at a later date.