Although it’s said that “marriage is a journey and not a destination,” in a divorce, your geographical location will impact many aspects of the divorce process, including the physical location where your children remain once the divorce is over.
Picture a spouse who has moved multiple times during the marriage to support the other spouse’s career. In the beginning, both spouses agreed that while their children were little, they would make Nebraska their home to allow for career advancement, but once their children became of school-age, they would relocate their family back to their hometown and support systems. Now one spouse wants a divorce and they can’t reach an agreement on whether the children should stay in Nebraska or be allowed to relocate, like they originally planned.
Picture also a parent who has been divorced and has primary physical custody of his or her child. That parent eventually remarries and his or her new spouse is a member of the Air Force and is being assigned to a new base in a different state.
In these types of cases, the stakes are high. This is especially true if the proposed relocation destination is thousands of miles away and would impact the ability for the other parent to have routine parenting time due to distance and travel expenses.
If parents cannot agree on the removal of their children from Nebraska, the Court will rely on the following analysis to determine whether removing a child from Nebraska is in the child’s best interest.
Step One: First, the parent who wants to leave Nebraska with the child must prove that he or she has a “legitimate reason for leaving the state.” For example, in Nebraska, a legitimate reason for leaving the state includes a job-related opportunity in another state that provides for “significant career enrichment.”
Step Two: Next, the parent must then prove that moving out-of-state is in the child’s best interest. To determine the best interest of the child, the court will ask whether the move will enhance the quality of life of the child and the relocating parent, whether each parent’s moving for leaving or opposing the removal is legitimate, and what impact the move will have on the non-removing parent’s relationship with the child.
When considering whether the move will enhance the quality of life of the child and the relocating parent, the court will consider various factors, including:
- The emotional, physical, and developmental needs of the child;
- The child’s opinion or preference as to where to live (if of appropriate age, maturity, and ability to comprehend and consider the circumstances);
- Whether the relocating parent’s income or employment will be enhanced;
- Improvement in the child’s housing or living conditions;
- Educational advantages;
- Quality of the relationships between the child and each parent;
- The child’s ties to both communities, including extended family;
- Whether the move would antagonize hostilities between the two parents.
Like marriage, the divorce process in itself is a journey. If you are interested in removing your children from the state of Nebraska after your divorce is final, seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney to assist you in navigating the complex analysis required in removal cases.