Moving with Your Child After Divorce
Making the decision to relocate with your child after a divorce can be extremely difficult. As a parent, you want what is best for your children, but you also have your own needs and goals to consider. Successfully navigating the complex legal process around relocation while keeping your child’s best interests at the center is crucial.
It is important to understand the key factors to equip you to build a compelling case demonstrating that moving out-of-state with your child is the right decision after your divorce. With proper planning and legal strategy, you can protect your rights as a parent while ensuring your child’s well-being.
Understanding Relocation Laws and Child Custody Factors
Laws regarding relocation vary somewhat by state, but courts everywhere employ a standard of the “best interest of the child” in evaluating requests to move children away from their current home.
To determine what is best, courts weigh these key factors:
Educational Opportunities: Will the child have access to better schools or special programs?
Health and Emotional Wellbeing: Will the move benefit or harm the child emotionally?
Family Support System: Is there extended family or a support network in the new location?
Standard of Living: Will the move improve the child’s and custodial parent’s quality of life?
Relationship with Both Parents: Can a reasonable visitation schedule be maintained?
Parent’s Reason for Relocating: Is the parent moving for a legitimate reason, like a job or family?
Building Your Case for Relocation
To convince the court that relocating your child is in their best interest, you must thoughtfully address each factor the court considers.
These steps will equip you to make a compelling legal argument:
- Provide Sufficient Notice
Inform your ex-spouse of your intent to move as far in advance as possible, providing details about location, housing, schools, and visitation options. Insufficient notice can damage your credibility.
- Gather Documentation
Collect evidence related to each factor the court weighs. This may include school profiles, letters from counselors or doctors, job offers, cost of living data, and family member declarations.
- Research Options for Visitation
Thoroughly investigate travel arrangements, schedules, seasonal visits, video calls, and expenses to preserve your ex-spouse’s involvement. Courts want to see you prioritize the child, maintaining both relationships.
- Anticipate Objections
Try to view the situation from your ex-spouse’s perspective to prepare for their objections. Address likely concerns preemptively through your proposed visitation plan and arguments regarding educational, emotional, and financial benefits.
- Consult an Attorney
An experienced family law attorney can help anticipate pitfalls, ensure you meet all procedural notification requirements, and advocate effectively for your child’s best interest. Legal expertise is invaluable. Brungess and Kezirian, LLP, Attorneys at Laws, can help every step of the way.
Common Relocation Mistakes to Avoid
While each child relocation case has unique circumstances, some common missteps can severely undermine an otherwise strong argument.
Avoid these mistakes in your legal approach:
Disrupting Child’s Routine
Dramatically changing a child’s home, school, activities, and friends right before a legal dispute can appear manipulative rather than child-focused. Maintain consistency leading up to the hearing.
Insufficient Financial Planning
Failing to demonstrate how you will provide stable housing, quality care, and educational opportunities can raise doubt about the wisdom of relocating. Thoroughly research options in your potential new home.
Not Involving Other Parent
Even if you have sole physical custody, excluding your ex-spouse from the relocation discussion or failing to provide legally required advance notice can damage your credibility and case.
Appearing to Disregard Child’s Needs
With children’s wellbeing at the forefront, you position yourself for the strongest legal argument. As experienced attorneys, we can advise you on articulating relocation as a collective benefit rather than a unilateral decision.
We Can Help
While the legal process can be demanding, with dedication and the right approach, you can protect your fundamental rights as a parent while also securing the best possible outcome for your child. As an experienced family law firm, we are here to offer guidance and advocacy to help you achieve a smooth transition. Contact Brungess and Kezirian, LLP, Attorneys at Laws, today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.