Custodial Parent’s Reasons for Relocation

Possibly the most important of the relocation factors is the custodial parent’s reason(s) for the proposed relocation. As discussed in Part II(B), several jurisdictions require the prima facie showing of a legitimate or good-faith reason for the proposed relocation before the best interests of the child will be considered. Even jurisdictions that do not require such a showing generally consider the motives of the parents underlying the relocation as factors in determining the best interests of the child. While it would be impossible to catalog all possible reasons, there are several that arise with great frequency in relocation cases. A representative list of what constitutes a legitimate or good-faith reason for relocation is set forth in Dupre v. Dupre, 2004 WL 1698336 (R.I. 2004).

"(1) to be close to significant family or other sources of support, (2) to address significant health problems, (3) to protect the safety of the child or another member of the child’s household from a significant risk of harm, (4) to pursue a significant employment or educational opportunity, (5) to be with one’s spouse or domestic partner who lives in, or is pursuing a significant employment or educational opportunity in, the new location, (6) to significantly improve the family’s quality of life. The relocating parent should have the burden of proving the validity of any other purpose." Section 2.17(4)(a)(ii).

Id. at *14 (quoting Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution, A.L.I. ch. 2, 2.17(4)(a)(ii) (LexisNexis 2002)); see also W. Va. Code 48-9-403(d)(1) (2004) (adopting A.L.I. principles).

These reasons can be divided into two categories economic and personal. Legitimate economic reasons arise when a proposed relocation conveys a financial benefit on, or causes the economic improvement of, the custodial parent and include employment and educational opportunities as well as the opportunities of the custodial parent’s new spouse. Legitimate personal reasons, on the other hand, convey no direct financial benefit but, instead, increase the custodial parent’s quality of life or emotional well-being. These benefits include the advantages of relocating near family and moves designed to facilitate remarriage. Generally, courts are more swayed by economic reasons, finding that improvements in the custodial parent’s economic circumstances tend to more directly accrue to the child than any increase in the custodial parent’s well-being for personal reasons.



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GOOD FAITH -- In general, courts require that the relocation of a child be made in good faith, which means that the noncustodial parent, in order to oppose relocation, must demonstrate that the move is not in good faith and not in the best interest of the child. Relocating for purposes to just "get away" from the non-custodial parents is not looked fondly upon by the court.

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