Opportunity may knock in another city, but if you’re the custodial parent, you can’t just pick up and move. Custody arrangements are put in place to ensure that the children have the opportunity to develop a relationship with each parent. The non-custodial parent does have a say in whether you can move, but the courts are here to help.
Notice of intent to move
If you’re thinking of moving, you must file a notice of intent to move. This acts as an official notice to the non-custodial parent, and it’s necessary even if you already have an informal verbal agreement. At this point, if the non-custodial parents agrees to the terms, you can proceed. However, the non-custodial parent also has the opportunity to contest the move. If this happens, you’ll have to have a court hearing where the judge will decide what’s in the best interest of the children.
Moving is complex, and there are many reasons you might consider moving far away. The court will decide whether those reasons are in “good faith” or “bad faith.” For instance, if you have a job offer in another city, desire better schools for your children, or want to move to be closer to your family, those are good faith reasons. Moving to another city to make it more difficult for your ex to see the kids or because you’re ready for a change of pace are not good reasons to move, according to the courts. They’ll also consider the distance of the move and how that might affect the relationship with the non-custodial parent. A move to the next county over might make visitation inconvenient, but it’s a lot easier to manage that than it would be to manage a move across the country. However, courts may still approve a long-distance move if it will offer a better quality of life for the children.
Changes in custody arrangements
If approved, the move will almost certainly require changes in the custody arrangement. If both parents are no longer in the same school district, for example, the non-custodial parent may not be able to have the kids on a school night. With a long-distance move, the non-custodial parent may petition to have the kids over the Christmas and summer break for long periods of time. These are the types of things you should consider when you want to move your kids away from their other parent.
You shouldn’t have to pass up a good opportunity in another city, but you do need to think about what’s fair for the children and the non-custodial parent. In most cases, parents are able to work together to find a plan that is agreeable to both parents. If you have questions about a move you are considering in the wake of a divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney for informed legal guidance about your situation.