Parental Relocation

Parental Relocation

There are times where a custodial parent may want to relocate out of the current geographical area with a child or children. In today’s transient society, it is not uncommon for parents to relocate for a variety of reasons such as professional opportunities or marriage to a new spouse. However, this can negatively impact a noncustodial parent’s access to the child. Some reasons for relocation are considered legitimate by courts and some are not. Examples of illegitimate reasons are to deprive the noncustodial parent of access or to cause the noncustodial parent to incur additional expense during visitation.

Relocation by a custodial parent with a dependent child is a difficult and challenging issue for couples generally. Whether it is during a divorce proceeding or arises after the divorce, it will be challenging for you to facilitate close contact between the noncustodial parent and the children when there is a greater distance between homes. The opportunity to be a meaningful part of the children’s lives under such circumstances can become more difficult for the noncustodial parent.

What If The Custodial Parent Wishes To Relocate?

If the custodial parent intends to move after the divorce, it is essential that the couple address the issue since it is pivotal to the custody and parenting plan. The primary focus should be on maintaining the quality of the relationship between the parents and the child or children. The parties should focus on the impact that the relocation will have on the parenting plan and develop a plan that will maintain the parent/child relationship. It is important for each of the parties to obtain legal advice about their rights and obligations.

If relocation of a child would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the relocating parent must prove that the relocation will occur for a legitimate purpose, that the proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose, and that the relocation is in the best interests of the child. A court will consider many factors such as each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation, the quality of the relationships between the child and each of the parents, and the impact that the relocation would have on the quality and quantity of the child’s future contact with the non- relocating parent. A court will also consider the degree to which the relocating parent’s and the child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the relocation and the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non relocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements. If a court determines that the relocating parent’s reasons are not legitimate, it can prevent the parent from relocating. If the parent has already relocated, a court can order the parent to return the child to the previous jurisdiction. Therefore it is important to consult with experienced counsel to determine what your rights and obligations are whether you want to relocate or whether you would like to oppose relocation.