Published on July 17th, 2021 | by Bibhuranjan


Relocating with Children After a Divorce

Following a divorce, custodial parents may want to relocate with their children, in which case there are certain legal considerations to take into account. Oftentimes, custody arrangements work well when both parents remain in the same location, but certain circumstances may lead the custodial parent to pursue relocation, whether it’s to another town or another state.

While the relocation process may be easier if the noncustodial parent agrees to the move, the state may need to get involved if the noncustodial parent opposes it.

State Laws Around Relocation After a Divorce

A majority of states have certain laws that dictate how courts determine whether a custodial parent can relocate to another town or state following an amicable divorce. Some states require the custodial parent to provide the noncustodial parent with an official written notice of the move. At that point, the noncustodial parent may be able to file an objection with the court to initiate a legal battle. Other states require the custodial parent to file a petition that requests the court’s permission to relocate.

Because the laws differ between states, it’s important for custodial parents to understand their state’s specific laws if they want to relocate. Otherwise, they may wind up losing custody of their children. If the custodial parent decides to move with their children without the court’s approval and against the wishes of the noncustodial parent, judges may also issue a contempt order to sanction the custodial parent, which could lead to steep fines and jail time.

When Parents Agree to a Relocation

Both custodial and noncustodial parents can agree to relocations, which can lead to a new custody agreement based on the new location that still enables the noncustodial parent to see the child. The judge in these cases will determine if the arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

If parents agree to the relocation, they will both need to sign a written stipulation and consent agreement that may become a court order. On the other hand, if parents are unable to agree to a relocation, custody mediators or co-parenting counselors can help them reach an agreement. If they are still unable to come to an agreeable arrangement, the custodial parent will need to file a motion or petition that asks the court to approve the relocation.

How Judges Determine Whether to Permit a Relocation

Although each state has unique laws around relocation, the courts are still responsible for determining whether relocation is beneficial for a child despite the noncustodial parent’s disapproval and potentially disrupted visitation rights.

For instance, the courts may decide to approve the relocation if the child benefits from changes such as a new educational opportunity, the custodial parent’s increased income when landing a new job after searching for a new career, a new marriage, or closer proximity to the custodial parent’s extended family in the new location.

In addition to the potential benefits to the child, the courts must consider potential downsides resulting from limited time spent with the noncustodial parent. Oftentimes, the courts may determine that the many advantages of a move outweigh the adverse effects of reduced visitation time with the noncustodial parent.

How Visitation Works with Relocating Noncustodial Parents

Sometimes a noncustodial parent may want or need to relocate, which doesn’t typically require either the custodial parent or court’s approval beforehand if they’re relocating alone. When a noncustodial parent relocates, they also won’t normally lose visitation rights, as long as the courts perceive the current arrangements to be beneficial for the parent’s children.

For example, a noncustodial parent may move to another nearby town with a current arrangement that entails weekend visits with children, which remains beneficial for the child upon the parent’s relocation. If the noncustodial parent chooses to move to another state, this may require new arrangements that are more convenient for the child and custodial parent.

Both parents can agree to an arrangement that works for them if the noncustodial parent plans to relocate, at which time they can submit a written agreement to the court requesting approval. The courts are likely to approve the agreement as long as it’s in the best interests of the child.

Noncustodial parents have the option of filing a motion with the court if the custodial parent refuses to agree to new custody and visitation arrangements. To pursue any desired changes, the noncustodial parent should sufficiently prepare for a hearing with an in-depth schedule that details visitation times and how the parents intend to cover transportation costs.

When relocating, both parents may also want to arrange electronic communications that help the noncustodial parent remain in touch with their child once relocated.

Determining Arrangements That Work Best for the Child

Whether the custodial or noncustodial parent intends to relocate, it’s important for any arrangements they keep or change to be in the child’s best interest. While both parents can come to a mutually agreeable arrangement, the courts will ultimately decide whether relocation is beneficial for the child and requires any changes to existing arrangements.

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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