Family Lawyers Who Mean Business

Child custody and relocation – advice for divorced parents

When provided with a dream job opportunity in another city or state, there are often several factors to consider. For divorced parents, issues related to child custody often serve to further complicate things. As with most things related to divorce and child custody, careful and deliberate planning is often necessary.

The majority of divorced parents have some sort of legal child custody agreement. This agreement binds both parents to agreed upon terms and can be grounds for legal action should either parent attempt to deviate from it. How do the terms of a child custody agreement apply when a parent plans to make a move to another city or state?

Much depends on whether or not a move will disrupt the agreed upon custody arrangement. Will the move prohibit the non-custodial parent from seeing the child on court approved days? If so, the parent who will be adversely impacted by the move may choose to file for primary custody of the child. If a judge opts to switch primary custody, this move effectively prevents the child from moving.

In child custody matters, several factors go into a judge’s decision on whether a parent should be allowed to move with their child. A guiding factor in all decisions is whether or not such a move would be in the child’s best interest. Would the relationship with the parent who is left behind suffer as a result of the move?

The child’s age plays a major part in the equation as well. Younger children are likely not involved in school or community activities, whereas an older school-age child may feel more invested in their community. The opinion and preference of an older child may be taken into consideration by a judge when making his or her decision.

If a parent is planning to move a considerable distance from their ex-spouse, it’s wise to plan. If a parent wishes to have a child move with them, they must be prepared to prove the move would be in the child’s best interest. A legal professional who is experienced in child custody matters can provide advice and guidance and help provide for the best possible outcome.

Source: The New of Orange County, “Single parents juggle child custody with personal freedom,” Kim K. Steffan, Jan. 19, 2013

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