What Custodial Parents Need to Do to Move out of State

Child custody is a touchy subject, and it becomes all the more fragile if the custodial parent needs to move a substantial distance away. If you have sole or joint custody of your children and have an opportunity to move to another state, for example, your ex-spouse could protest and try to stop you from removing the children from the state.

Even if you have sole custody and the noncustodial parent never sees the children, do not assume you can just move. You do have to follow the law regarding notice and visitation. Experienced family law attorneys can help to advise you regarding your specific situation.

Perform Notice and Consent

Some states require custodial parents to provide notice about moving out of state. In other words, taking your child out of state for the weekend generally doesn’t require relocation notice (though it may violate a current visitation agreement, which is another can of worms that you would need to address). But moving to another state for even a few months may require the notice. This notice includes information on the new location, why you need to move there and how it will benefit the children to go, and what sort of new visitation schedule you’re proposing.

It is generally a bad idea to write up this notice without the help of a family law attorney. The court will want to see that the move is in the best interest of the children because uprooting the children from familiar schools and surroundings is disruptive. In other words, you have to show that the disruption will ultimately be a healthy situation for the children. An attorney can help you to achieve this goal.

Write up That Benefits List

In a perfect world, your ex-spouse would agree to the move. In the real world, ex-spouses often contest the move, taking you to court where you have to defend your decision. In addition to writing up the benefits in the notice, work with the attorney to create a detailed list of how the move will benefit the children. For example, if your reason is that the quality of life will be better, look at school scores, cost of living, job security for you, and so on. You’ll need this if your spouse argues the move is not in the children’s best interest.

Even if the ex-spouse agrees to the move, you may still have to go to court to work out the new visitation schedule and details like who will pay for the children’s travel. Before you do anything else, contact a family law attorney to review state law regarding move-away situations. You can’t risk missing any steps. You can certainly start preparing for the process, but think twice before heading to court before you get legal advice.