How Can a Relocation Affect Child Custody?

Co-parents usually have a legally binding parenting plan that outlines who has custody of their child at any given time. This can become disrupted if either parent decides to relocate, especially if it’s out of state.

When Does Relocation Require Legal Intervention?

A custodial parent is obligated to inform the non-custodial parent of a move if it is more than 50 miles from their current residence. Unless a court has granted the custodial parent permission to restrict certain information from the non-custodial parent, they must send written notice of the move to the non-custodial parent’s address 60 days before the move.

In addition, the notice must contain the:

  • statement of intent to move;
  • location of the new residence;
  • reasons for the move; and
  • confirmation that the non-custodial parent can object to the move within 30 days of the notice.

If the parents agree on the relocation, the custodial parent can begin the move after the 30-day waiting period. If the parents do not agree on the relocation, the matter must be taken to court.

Factors of a Relocation Hearing

The first thing a court will consider when determining if relocation is appropriate is if the parents spend equal time with their child.

The court examines:

  • parenting time guidelines in the current custody order;
  • if either parent spends additional time with the child;
  • the activities each parent participates in with the child; and
  • the resources each parent expends related to the supervision and care of the child.

If it’s of the opinion of the court that each parent shares equal time with the child, the court will then examine a few additional factors.

These factors include:

  • the likelihood of the relocating parent to honor a new visitation and custody order;
  • the quality of each parent/child relationship;
  • the quality of care each parent gives the child;
  • the stability each parent can offer the child;
  • the health of each parent;
  • the child’s behavioral record;
  • the child’s preference (if 12 or older);
  • the existence of child abuse; and/or
  • the character and health of any other people living in the home.

Protecting Your Child’s Best Interests

At Conner & Roberts, PLLC, our child custody advocates can strongly advocate for your rights during a relocation hearing.

Contact our firm online or call us at (423) 299-4489 for a complimentary consultation.

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