Relocation With Children

What happens if you are a custodial parent and your company transfers you to another state?

In the past, custodial rights stayed the same when one parent moved. Now things are different.

When one parent who is sharing custody of a child has to relocate, a change in custody may be ordered by the court if it is deemed to be in the child's best interests. There is no longer an automatic right of the custodial parent to retain custody when relocating. This means that if a parent with custody of a child must relocate, there is no guarantee that he or she can take the child along. The court may bar the relocation with children and order that the child stay in his or her current location (or with the other parent).

The court will primarily consider the best interests of the child (BIC standard) in making decisions regarding relocation. The following factors are considered:

  • Age of the child

  • Ties to schooling and environment

  • The child's support system

  • Involvement and relationship with the other parent

  • What effect a change in any/all of these would have on the child

All other rights are secondary to the court's desire to protect the best interests of the child.

Since the court considers the relocation issue in child custody actions on a case-by-case basis, the relocating parent will not automatically lose custody, but he or she will not automatically retain custody, either.

If you are the custodial parent and seeking to relocate with your children, the court will want to know why. Is it for a job? Could you find alternative work without moving? Are you moving for relationship reasons or to be closer to your family?

If you are the noncustodial parent and seeking to prevent the child from moving or if you're seeking primary custody when the other parent moves, the court will consider factors such as:

  • Your level of involvement in the child's life and the detriment to the child of losing that level of relationship with you (such as a move to another state where you will not see the child nearly as often)
  • The child's own involvement in the community (schools, friends, activities, etc.)
  • The detriment to the child if he or she is taken from a familiar environment and moved to a totally new environment

The court may issue a temporary injunction against relocating the child if the move is imminent and there is not enough time to conduct a full review prior to a given relocation date.

Call Hecht Family Law immediately at 678-926-9234 if you are intending to relocate with children or have been served with notice that your child's other parent is intending to relocate. Timing is an essential element of a relocation case, and you need to make the right decisions and take the right steps no matter which side of the case you are on. Call us at 678-926-9234 so we can help you approach the relocation matter most effectively.