What Happens When a Parent Moves Out of State?

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It’s not at all uncommon to want a fresh start following a divorce.

Many people want to start anew and leave the things that remind them of their past behind, and while it’s understandable for one parent to want to relocate to a new state, it can complicate things when children are involved. Whether you’re the parent wanting to move out of state or your ex recently brought it up, it’s important to know your rights and what to expect.

Below, you’ll find several ways your situation might play out, but keep in mind that no two families and situations are the same. Moving out of state would entail a major life change for your child, and discussing your options with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to determine what will be best for your family. If you need assistance planning around an out-of-state move, contact Fairell Roy & Associates to schedule a consultation.

Agreements and Court Orders

The easiest way for one parent to relocate is to begin with an open and honest conversation with your ex before officially making an amendment to your parenting plan. If you’re able to agree on a plan that you think will be best for your child, you can file a modification with the court and await their decision.

If you and your ex are not able to come to an agreement, the parent seeking to relocate will typically need to provide the other parent with formal written notice of their intention to move and suggested modifications to the parenting agreement. The notice must be given at least 30 days prior to the move, and anyone — including extended family members who have been granted visitation rights — must be notified as well. It’s important to note that the other parties may object to the proposed changes to the parenting plan and file an official modification case with the court in an effort to stop the relocation, leaving it up to the court to decide.

What the Court Considers

It’s important to remember that in every case, the court puts the child’s best interest first. Simply wanting to move to a new state is unlikely to convince the court that the move serves a child’s best interest, but the following factors could play an important role in the decision:

  • Why the parent wants to relocate
  • Employment opportunities for the relocating parent
  • Each household’s stability
  • The child’s current relationship with each parent
  • The degree to which each parent is involved in the child’s life
  • How the child’s relationship with each parent could be affected
  • If and how the child’s standard of living will change
  • The child’s preferences, depending on their age

As you can see, child custody can quickly become complicated when all of a family’s circumstances are taken into consideration.

At Fairell Roy & Associates, we understand that the years following a divorce can be difficult and cause uncertainty. If you or the other parent are considering relocating, reach out to our family law attorneys for a consultation. We’ll help you understand your rights and guide you through any legal processes you need to navigate in order to make the best possible decision for your family.


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