When one parent wants to move out of the area with the minor child in a custody case, they will usually need either the consent of the other parent, or they will need a court order granting the move away request. This issue comes up often when one parent wants to move out-of-state for a new job or because they are getting remarried.
Issues that come up in a move away request are how the move would affect the minor child or children involved, how visitation and/or custody would be affected by the move, the reason for the move, and like all child custody matters, whether it is in the best interest of the child to make the move.
If a parent wants to move, it is not impossible to simply get the other parent to consent to the move. The law usually requires notification to the other parent of the proposed move before a court action is filed, and it is important to offer a reasonable visitation schedule to the other parent, since a move will usually make it harder for the parent not moving to maintain the current visitation schedule.
If the other parent does not consent to the move away request, then you will usually need to file a request with the court to be able to move with the minor child or children, unless a prior order already gives you the right to change residence without the consent of the other parent. In a court hearing, there are some presumptions that favor the parent with primary custody of a child. However, those presumptions can be overcome, s it is important to make a clear case to the court why the move will benefit the minor child or children.
One of the most important factors is which parent has been providing a stable environment for the child. Other important factors are comparing the schools, for example is the new school better for the child than the old school, and also community statistics. A judge is more likely to grant a move away where the parent is moving somewhere with a lower crime rate and better schools, than the other way around.
An important caveat to remember is that a move away request is not automatic, even if you are the primary custodial parent. A request should be made with plenty of time, this is not something to request at the last minute. A court may not allow you to move with the child, which means you could still move, but custody would switch and the child would stay with the other parent.
Also, a move away court dispute can be very costly, so it makes better financial sense for parents to try to work out an arrangement that allows the move but maintains sufficient contact with the other parent. With modern technology, that is made even easier, with parents able to video chat with their children over the internet from anywhere in the country, or even the world. Also, often the parent who doesn’t have as much visitation time during the school year after the move could have most of the time during summer and holidays.
Last caveat, don’t try to move away just to get an advantage in a custody case. If you aren’t doing something with the child’s best interest in mind, that could really come back to hurt you in a custody case. Remember, it is always best to consult with a move away lawyer before you take action.