In relocation and custody, judges, at some point, talk about the best interests of the child – the gold standard that means what a court says it means. But in general, courts consider a variety of factors in determining whether or not to permit a move, including “the relative strength, nature, quality, extent of involvement, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life” and prior agreements in divorce decrees or orders, because courts defer to what has been previously decided when possible.
The court considers the assets and liabilities of the move – whether the benefit of the relocation outweigh liabilities or potential harm caused by the relocation. In particular, judges consider whether the relocation substantially interferes with the other parent’s relationship with the child.
Relocations that are in bad faith – that is, intended to interfere with the other parent’s rights – do not sit well with a court. Along this line, courts consider the availability of a modified visitation routine to foster and continue the child’s relationship with, and access to, the other parent.
In addition courts consider:
- the age, developmental stage, and needs of the child;
- the quality of life, resources, and opportunities available to the child and to the relocating party in the current and proposed locations;
- the financial impact of the relocation as it relates to parenting time.