Relocation Fights

Parental relocation can trigger court fights between the custodial parent who wishes to move and the noncustodial parent who wants to block the relocation. A custodial parent or primary caretaker may have many good reasons to relocate, including marriage, a career opportunity, or an improved quality of life. It is understandable that a parent might find it necessary to move. However, custodial parents must be aware of child relocation considerations.

The court’s primary concern is the “best interest of the child.” In some cases and jurisdictions, the court assumes that relocation is not in the “best interest of the child.” The parent who plans to relocate must prove this wrong; the noncustodial parent must prove the custodial parent wrong. Both parents face a very difficult burden of proof in court.

The courts want the custodial parent to notify a noncustodial parent about the relocation in as much time as possible. Courts look unfavorably on a relocating parent who springs the move on the noncustodial parent at a court hearing. The courts consider several factors when deciding whether to permit relocation. Those include the age and maturity of the child; distance between the new and old homes, and the potential improvement in the quality of life. They will also consider the education and leisure opportunities in a new location.

The judge might also want to speak with the child to learn whether or not the child prefers to live with the relocating or the non-relocating parent.

The relocating parent might want to consider permitting extended vacation visits with the non-relocating parent, in order to continue and possibly deepen the bond between the child and the non-relocating parent.

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