Image of a mother hugging her daughter representing child custody and relocation.

Child Relocation: A Brief Overview

The balance of child custody is a delicate one to strike. Often it is an agreement rife with compromises in the child’s best interest. Sometimes, however, the parent assigned primary custody may have to or want to move. When this issue is raised, the matter of child relocation must be considered.

Child relocation is more complicated than it first appears. Often there must be a “move-away case” in which the child custody order is readdressed to comply with these new standards. If the custodial parent moves with the child without consulting the court and against the non-custodial parent’s wishes, the custodial parent could be found in contempt and sanctioned with fines, penalties, or even imprisonment. 

Child relocation could be very mild or it could be a drastic change. In general, if the child moves across a county line, then a child relocation case must be considered. If the parents agree to move the child, they can sign a “stipulation and consent agreement” outlining the new custody terms and swearing that both parents agree to these new terms. 

If the non-custodial parent opposes the move, usually because it will impact how much time they can spend with the child, then the judge must weigh whether to allow the move. The judge has broad discretion as to whether to allow or disallow the move but generally considers the reasoning for the move. In general, the court will consider the move beneficial if it falls into one of the following reasons:

  • The custodial parent is moving for a new job or for an increased income
  • The new home is closer to the custodial parent’s family, increasing support for the child
  • A new or improved educational opportunity is available for the child
  • The custodial parent is marrying a new spouse, providing a stable home for the child

While these may be reasons that the judge grants custody, the broad discretion given means that either side may convince the judge for any number of reasons.

In all cases, the benefit posed to the child will also be weighed against the potential harms of being further away from their non-custodial parent and the reduced time spent with them as a result. In some states, this burden is placed more on the non-custodial parent to prove that the move is not in the child’s best interest.

A child relocation case may also stipulate that the child be given unlimited electronic access to the non-custodial parent in order to give the child some connection even if the custodial parent moved a significant distance. If a non-custodial parent moves a significant distance, they will need to file a motion with the court prior to leaving, and the burden will be on them to provide new, detailed scheduling of how the custody will be split, including management of transportation expenses.

If you want to pursue the best possible result in a relocation dispute, you will need an experienced Divorce & Family attorney. A Divorce & Family attorney can create the best case for you and protect your interests as an outside party. The best way to find an experienced Divorce & Family attorney is with Attorney at Law.

At AAL, our nationwide network of attorneys and law firms allows us to match you with a the best attorney in your area. Our partners each have a distinguished record, extensive experience, and the resources to succeed. Additionally, all of our partners are screened for client care.

At AAL, we understand that child custody can be an emotional and stressful time. That’s why we only partner with firms that show clients the level of care and sensitivity that they need in such a trying time. 

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a free, no obligation consultation and protect your familial rights.

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