A move away occurs when one parent seeks to move far enough away so as to disrupt the current custodial arrangement. Whether the move is to a different city, county, state or country, if the move will disrupt the current custodial arrangement, the parents will need new custody orders. A move away request can arise shortly after a separation or after a final Custody Order has been issued.
Please remember that the court will not decide whether the parent can move since there is a Constitutional right to move. However, the court will decide whether the child(ren) should move with the relocating parent and, if so, what the new custodial arrangements are in the child(ren)’s best interests.
The court’s approach to the issue of whether one parent may be permitted to move away with the child(ren) depends on whether the moving parent has sole physical custody of the child(ren), or whether the parents have joint custody. If one parent has sole physical custody of the minor child(ren) that parent is presumptively entitled to move with the children. This simply means that there is an assumption that the parent and children can move however the right is not absolute. The non-moving parent has the opportunity and burden to show that the proposed move would be detrimental to the children such that the current orders would need to be reevaluated. If the parents have joint physical custody o the children, the parents essentially come to court on an even playing field and the court will make a decision as to a new custody Order based on the children’s best interests.
Each move away request is fact dependent. Case law as to move away requests require that eight (8) primary factors be considered in each move away request:
- The children’s stability and continuity in the custodial arrangement;
- The distance of the move;
- The age of the children;
- The children’s relationship with both parents;
- The relationship between the parents, including but not limited to, their ability to communicate and cooperate effectively and their willingness to put the interests of the children above their individual interests;
- The wishes of the children if they are mature enough to express their wishes;
- Reasons for the proposed move;
- The extent to which the parents currently are sharing custody.
In considering a move away request, the Court may order that a Child Custody Evaluation be conducted by a child custody evaluator. Once such an evaluation is complete, the child custody evaluator will submit a report to the Court which report will contain recommendations regarding the request to move away.
If you are considering a relocation with your child(ren) or if the other parent has notified you of an intent to move away with the children and you object to the proposed move, you should consult an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Move away / relocation requests are complex and time consuming.
Both Eve Lopez and Alex Grager are Certified Family Law Specialists with the skill and experience to address move away / relocation issues. If you are currently considering bringing a move-away request or need to object to a move away request, the experienced attorneys at Lopez Law Group are available to answer your questions and help you understand the process of a move-away/relocation request.