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Can a Custodial Parent Take a Child Out of State?

A child typically cannot be removed from his state of domicile or residence without the prior approval of the court or judge who awarded custody. If the custodial parent moves the domicile of the minor child out of state against the wishes of the non-custodial parent and without the permission of the court, then the court may sanction orders of contempt. An order to permit a parent to move a child from the state is often required before a move can occur, especially in contested relocation or move-away cases. The relocation or move-away order may be entered either by consent of both parties or by the court after a hearing.

Often court orders will include a change of domicile provision stating that the custodial parent shall not remove the minor child from the state without prior approval of the court. The reason for this provision is to protect the non-custodial parent's rights to visitation and to ensure that a custodial parent's move out of state is legitimate and is not being done to frustrate or deny the non-custodial parent's access to the minor child.

If the parties mutually agree to a change of domicile and sign a written agreement (known as a stipulation and consent agreement), it may be entered as an order if approved by the court.

On the other hand, if the parties cannot mutually agree on a change of domicile, they may proceed in several ways. A parent may contact the other party to reach a consensus, may attempt to resolve the matter in mediation or in another form of alternative dispute resolution, or may choose to file a petition for a court to consider the matter.

If you have questions or find yourself in a situation where the custodial parent wishes to take your child out of state against your wishes or against a court order, you would be wise to consult an attorney in your jurisdiction to help you learn where you stand legally and what your options are.


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