After divorce, people may have a newfound freedom to explore various opportunities. They may enter a new relationship; reconnect with old friends, relatives and acquaintances; or change jobs. But, sometimes, the only way to take advantage of new opportunities is to move to a new locale. For custodial parents, who need the courts permission to remove their children from the state, this means renegotiating your current custody agreement or litigating the issue in court.
If you have a cooperative co-parenting relationship with the other parent, you may be able to work out a time-sharing agreement where one of you has the children during the school year and the other has them during the summer months and certain holidays. But arriving at such an agreement requires you to settle several matters:
If you and the other parent can resolve these issues, you can present a new custody agreement to the court for approval. However, the court will only approve a relocation if, considering the totality of the circumstances, it is in the best interests of your children.
That same standard applies if you cannot come to an agreement with your spouse and decide to litigate the issue in family court. The court considers several factors when deciding whether relocation is in the children’s best interest, including the quality of the relationship the noncustodial parent has with the children and the impact the move might have on that parent’s ability to maintain a healthy, loving relationship.
The key to getting court permission for relocation is not to demonstrate that your life will be better, but to present evidence that strongly suggests your children’s lives will be better. If you are leaving for a better job, better home, better neighborhood, and a better school system, you can make a strong case that your children will be better off. However, the court must weigh those circumstances against the loss your children may suffer by being removed from their current locale and having their other parent at such a great distance.
If you’d like further information about relocation based on your specific circumstances, schedule a free consultation with our family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.
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