Moving a child out of state is usually a very emotional decision. There may be many good reasons for relocation – a new job, a desire to be closer to family, or even the need to make a fresh start. However, if you are the custodial parent and want to move with your child out of state, your first step needs to be to consult with a child custody lawyer to ensure you obtain the court’s permission to do so.
One of the first things your child custody attorney will tell you is: do NOT move out of state without obtaining the consent of the other parent. If you do not have consent, you must seek approval from the court before you move. Failing to do this could put you in legal jeopardy, and is a risky legal move for both you and your child.
The right of both parents to be a positive influence in the lives of their children – and the protection of those rights – is something a court takes very seriously. In all child custody matters – and especially those that involve relocation – the court will be guided by what is in the best interest of the child.
The custodial parent must prove to the court that he or she has a legitimate reason for relocating and that the move is in the child’s best interest. The court will look very carefully at several factors when considering if the relocation will enhance a child’s quality of life and how it may impact the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child. These factors include but are not limited to the following:
- The emotional, physical, and developmental needs of the child;
- The child’s opinion or preference as to where to live (if the child is 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.
There may be other factors the court will weigh as well, but the overarching principle at play here is what is in the best interests of the child. Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne understands the nuances and complexities of family law, and we are here to help guide you through the process.