If you and your ex-spouse actively co-parent one or more children, you may find that your relationship has improved significantly since the separation and divorce phases. However, even the most cordial co-parenting relationships have the potential to go downhill quickly when one parent expresses a desire (or a need) to move out of the immediate area. If you find yourself facing a work-related transfer or promotion that would require you and your child to set down roots in another state, what are your options? Must you relinquish custody to your ex-spouse? Read on to learn more about how a custodial parent's job relocation may be treated by the courts, as well as what you can do to help maintain your livelihood while continuing to put the best interests of your child first and foremost.
Are you permitted to move out of state when you have primary custody?
While many areas of law rely on the interpretation of lengthy contracts or dense constitutional provisions to decide cases, the areas of divorce and domestic relations are a bit more informal -- using "the best interests of the child" as a barometer for the equitability of a certain result. From a practical standpoint, this means that in many cases, parents are free to move cross-country (with children in tow) to further their careers, while in other situations, a parent with primary custody may need to relinquish this custody to the non-custodial parent in order to make the same move.
However, nearly all states have laws prohibiting a custodial parent from moving out of state without notifying the other parent (or the court) of this change and providing the other parent with an opportunity to respond. Even if the court eventually grants your request to relocate or modify custody, taking such an action without prior notice (or permission) could land you in legal hot water. If you do receive notice that you need to move to another state for your job, you'll want to consult your divorce attorney (or find an attorney) as quickly as possible to get this process moving.
What will you need to establish in order to receive the court's permission to relocate?
Because your child's best interests -- physical, social, mental, and emotional -- remain the paramount consideration by the court, you'll need to establish that having your child accompany you on this move is the best option for all involved. You'll also want to anticipate any concerns the court may have when it comes to your child's visitation schedule with his or her other parent.
For example, you and your ex-spouse may want to work out a visitation arrangement whereby your child spends a longer period of time with your ex-spouse during summer or holiday breaks. This can help generate a more equal distribution of parenting time, allaying any concerns that your child is being deprived of time with both parents.
For more information, talk to an attorney from a company like Madison Law Firm PLLC.