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Moving With Your Child After Divorce or Separation

If you do not yet have parenting time orders, but you know that you would like to move at the beginning of your separation or divorce, the court can fashion a parenting plan which accommodates for your planned move.

When you already have parenting time orders and you would like to move with the child, you may need to file a motion for relocation.

What constitutes relocation?

The statute defines “relocation” as a move that substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other party. This is generally understood to be a move that requires a change in the current parenting time schedule. For instance, if you are currently exercising an equal parenting schedule, this is possible because both you and the other parent live close enough together for frequent exchanges and it is likely that you both live close enough to the child’s school to be able to drop off and pick up from the school during your parenting time. If one of you wants to move an hour or two away from the other parent or from the child’s school, such frequent exchanges may no longer be possible. You will need to work with the other party to modify the parenting plan in order for you to move or you will need to file a motion to relocate with the court to allow you to move with the child and to modify the parenting plan to accommodate for this new distance between the parents.

You cannot relocate with the child without an agreement from the other party or an order from the court. Therefore, the first step when thinking about moving with your child is to have a conversation with the other parent about your plan. You should be ready to discuss how the other parent will be able to continue their relationship with the child right away.

If the other parent does not agree with the move, a motion to the court is the next step. You will need to outline your plan for the other parent to continue their relationship with the child for the court as well, and you will need to show the court how the proposed move and new schedule is in the child’s best interests.

Once the court receives your motion and your proposal for a new parenting plan, the court will consider all relevant information including if one party has perpetrated domestic violence against the other, the reasons for the proposed move, the reasons the other parent opposes the move, the history and quality of the relationship between the child and both parents, educational opportunities for the child in both locations, the presence of extended family in both locations, any advantages for the child in remaining with the primary caregiver, the expected impact of the move on the child, if the court can order a reasonable parenting time schedule if the proposed move is allowed, and any other factors that affect the best interests of the child.

Because the courts believe that in general, shared time with both parents is best for children, it is increasingly difficult to get the court to grant a motion for relocation. Therefore, it is always best to work with the other parent to see if you can come to an agreement regarding your proposed move and to see if there is a parenting plan that you both an agree to.

Get Started With Your Attorneys Today

The family law attorneys at Jorgensen, Brownell, & Pepin are experienced in navigating this process, negotiating with the other parent, and arguing these cases before the court when agreements cannot be reached. We would be happy to speak to you about your situation and plans to relocate.

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