If you are divorced and have a child custody agreement, what happens when you or your ex-spouse decide to move out of state with the child?
This is a difficult situation rife with emotion, concern for the wellbeing of your child and a threat to the custody schedule.
That’s why it’s best to know the law, take things one step at a time and talk to your lawyer.
The child’s well-being is most important
If the child’s primary caregiver – whether it’s you or your spouse – has a need to move out of state, then the child custody agreement needs to be reworked through the court. A judge will look at appropriate law and precedent but will have one condition above all others: The well-being of the child.
Child custody agreements usually contain limitations about relocating the child. These are put in the agreement to stop one parent from leaving the state without the other parent’s knowledge.
The most common reasons for deciding to move out of state are to pursue a better-paying job, or to be closer to family who may help care for the child. A judge will take these issues into account along with other considerations, including:
- The child’s age
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- Educational advantages
- Previous custodial agreements
- Distance and travelling costs
- The child’s ties with school, friends, relatives and the community
If a move is approved, a new visitation schedule needs to be negotiated. This will include times and places for the non-custodial parent to visit including long weekends, holidays, spring break and summer vacation.
The visitation schedule negotiations will include how either the non-custodial parent or the child will travel, who will pay for the travel and who will be responsible for drop-offs and pick-ups.
Usually the non-custodial parent pays for travel, but the court will take into account the financial abilities of each parent.
Child custody is a complex issue and requires legal expertise. You should consult with a qualified, experienced attorney if you need help.