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Managing Child Relocation After Divorce

When economic considerations require a move, it comes time for parents to revisit their custody plans. However, an open doorway to one parent will often feel like a closed door to the other when “frequent and continuing contact” with the children becomes no longer economically feasible after a move.

Since some parents may want to move just to limit custodial access by the other parent, and if so that is certainly something to be argued to the court when opposing the move, because the court will consider all relevant factors associated with a contemplated move, including if the move is motivated by a desire to hurt the other parent. The divorce court will examine the reasons for the move, in addition to its impact on the best interests of the child. When both parents have frequent contact with their children, the court may presume that any move away from one parent will be detrimental to the child.

For noncustodial parents faced with the possible move of a child, you should be sure to address the issue with the court as soon as possible, particularly if the move is imminent. Exercise all custodial time and be proactive in your child’s life. A move-away will often be more likely to be approved if a non-custodial parent is disengaged.

Custodial parents should remember to give as much notice of the proposed move to the other parent as possible. This can’t be a last-minute decision. It can also help provide a plan that will allow the other parent to maintain frequent contact with the children.

Because of the potentially damaging consequences of relocation, the court will review all relevant factors, including the need for stability, to achieve the most equitable arrangement possible that is in keeping with the court’s primary concern in this context: making an order that is in the best interest of the children.

The relocation of a custodial parent requires substantial adjustments for everyone. With the interests of parents so opposed, it’s difficult to achieve a settlement that pleases everyone. By giving serious consideration to the impact on children, the court can try to mitigate some if not most of the potential damage to the parent/child relationship.