To win a relocation custody case, there are many factors a parent should consider. Reasons to consider relocating a child may vary; however, it is best to act in the child’s best interest and consider all alternatives before resorting to relocation custody.
Courts will always rule in the child’s best interest, so before filing, a parent should ensure that the reason for the location is valid. Relocation custody cases are complex because, in all situations, there is one clear winner and one clear loser. After relocation custody is granted, the court will have to alter the previous agreement’s conditions.
Relocation laws vary from state to state regarding requirements for relocation, consent requirements, and expected notice. It is essential to realize that a judge will recognize both parties’ parental rights before passing a judgment.
There are several types of relocation custody cases. Easy cases to win are the cases where one parent is negligent or absent in the child’s life and has not formed a solid relationship with the child given the opportunity. Lack of consistency when a child lives close is a clear indication of neglect and heavily influences a court’s decision. However, when a parent shows signs of character, regular visitation, presence during birthday, award events, and holidays, it is harder for the other parent to get relocation rights.
In most cases, a judge will rule relocation if necessary. With two present, responsible parents, a judge will allow changes to the previous agreement. The hard part of winning a relocation custody case is proving that the relocation is necessary and poses minimal threat to a child’s current lifestyle and relationships. A child’s age and development are also possible considerations in cases. A much younger child may not realize any change in environment, making a move for a parent plausible. However, a child capable of noticing a changing environment, change in relationships, and change in circumstance will be most likely affected by a move.
This article will focus on filing for relocation, winning a custody case, and reasons to relocate with a child.
How to Win a Relocation Custody Case?
Relocation custody cases are some of the most difficult custody cases in the US court system. A relocation custody case usually includes two parents with joint custody. It occurs when one parent with primary custody requests to move with the child to another location or state away from the other parent. However, before relocating a child, a parent should research the state’s child custody relocation laws.
To prove that relocation will not negatively affect the child, a parent should establish that relocation will not disrupt the child and the other parent’s communication or relationship. The parent will have to prove there is still an opportunity for the parent left behind to continue a healthy relationship with the child.
Proving a healthy relationship could be difficult. Weekend visitations will stop, money for traveling funds could be hard to come by, and discipline and parent representation situations will be hard to resolve.
Most cases of relocation custody depend on the reason for the relocation. Common relocation reasons are divorce, job opportunity, financial strain, etc.
To convince the judge, the parent must present “good faith” reasons to move, such as:
- Relocation to a state with a more affordable cost of living
- Closer move to a family that can assist with childcare
- Better job opportunity
- Resuming the parent’s higher education
A judge may object to relocation out of state request because of “bad faith.” A parent may attempt to move out of spite or gain some distance between them and the other parent or out of revenge.
In most states, the parent requesting relocation must present an alternative method to schedule, including visitation, traveling cost, and adjustment to the original agreement. The parent filing for relocation must propose entirely new scheduling that each parent can easily abide by. The relocating parent should include access to the child during holidays, special occasions, and birthdays. Indication of an equal split of expenses between parents is also a sign of good faith in a judge’s eyes.
For some states, the court may prohibit relocation to another state exceeding a certain distance. The parent requesting relocation is also expected to give ample notice. A court may rule in favor of the parent requesting relocation if they can prove that the objecting parent was absent or negligent, including avoiding regularly scheduled visitation rights.
When preparing for a relocation custody case, there are several questions you should ask.
- Does the parent display regular, consistent interaction with the child? This includes educational, athletic, and nurturing activities, or are activities usually passive and inactive.
- Researching the school the child currently attends and the school the child will attend can help you produce beneficial evidence to the court. Does the child have the opportunity for a better education after relocation?
- Including an education, an expert can help you further prove your case to the court. A parent can strengthen their case by using the opinion of an expert outside of the situation.
- Hiring someone who works in real estate to compare the cost of living is a great way to demonstrate the move’s economic advantages. Prove to the judge the disadvantages of the economic opportunity in your current location.
- Discussing the move with your child and helping them realize the benefits will positively impact your case if your child understands and supports the reason to move.
The use of outside sources can help a parent build a stronger case for relocation. Statements from teachers, family members, and community leaders can help a judge determine a parent’s ability to take on primary custody’s responsibility for a relocation case. Suppose a parent can prove responsibility and capability of caring for the child with minimal assistance of another parent with the help of outside sources. In that case, a judge may rule in favor.
What are the Reasons to Relocate With a Child
While there are plenty of reasons to relocate with the child, relocation and child custody may occur for economic reasons. It might be the primary reason why some parents might attempt to relocate with a child. When making a decision, the family court will likely determine the economic advantages of moving with the child. A judge will recognize if a parent has to move because of employment requirements.
Strained relationships involving extended family are also one of the common reasons in relocation custody cases. You can argue that moving closer to extended family provides a support system equipped with assistance for childcare.
However, the reason mentioned above also has disadvantages. The family court can rule that relocation be closer to extended family causes unnecessary disturbance in a child’s life.
Remarriage is also a common reason used to support relocation custody. Courts will consider this situation’s potential to benefit the child because of introducing new family resources.
Relocation because of a dangerous environment is also a great idea to present to a court. Suppose a court determines that a parent and child’s well-being is in jeopardy. In that case, they may automatically rule that a move is necessary. This often occurs when one parent is abusive or poses another threat to the child’s well-being. In these cases, law enforcement is often involved, and the court will award custody to the deserving parent.
The court will also take into account the background of each parent when deciding on relocation matters. Proof of negligent and illegal behavior to or around a child is immediate grounds for custody and may even lead to relocation custody grounds.
What About Stopping Relocation?
Stopping the relocation of a parent who currently has sole custody can be difficult. A successful argument in court will demonstrate that the move poses a threat to the child’s well-being. The potential of disrupting the child’s routine, the distance from each location, the change in schools, and the break in the child’s already formed relationships are significant arguments that you can use in court.
Relocation custody battles are better won before one spouse files the relocation custody request. Adding to the initial custody terms after the court awards a parent sole custody can prevent the possibility of a move. A parent should make sure that the other parent who has custody abides by the former contract rules.
To prove a relocation is unnecessary, a parent may introduce the following to a court case:
- Uprooting the child from their home will further damage relationships already established at the current home. Relationships formed at school, clubs, and relationships between a family member that already reside in the current state
- Prove that relationship between parent and child will be at risk if the other parent is awarded relocation custody. Relocation might also violate a parent’s visitation rights as they can no longer participate in regular visitation times.
- The move will disrupt the child’s relationships within the community he/she currently resides.
- This article should guide a parent on winning a relocation case whether the reader is a sole custody parent or a non-custodial parent. Relocation custody cases are some of the hardest cases presented in family court. Parents should perform the proper research in terms of the initial custody agreement and their state relocation laws.
- Reasons to relocate a child should be valid and easily proven to a judge. Economic reasons are more important than personal reasons as a child’s relocation is a subject that family court takes seriously.
- To obtain child custody moving out of state, both parents should present their cases in a court highlighting why or why not a child should move out of state with the parent who holds sole custody. Fees presented as a consequence of relocation should be equal between each parent in a fair agreement.
- In severe cases, a parent should seek an attorney’s advice or the involvement of law enforcement. In any situation, leaving the state with the child without a judge’s permission can lead to criminal prosecution and custody loss.
- When filing for relocation custody, asking specific questions can help a parent determine if they possess a strong case.
- Is the other parent negligent or absent in the child’s life?
- Can the proof of negligence and absence be proven in court?
- Will the further absence of the parent negatively affect the child if relocation custody is awarded?
- Is relocation possible when the previous custody agreement is considered?
Once relocated, it is up to the parent with sole custody to ensure that a child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent remains intact. Moving can negatively affect a child, threatening an already damaged relationship with a parent and a destructive relationship with new stepparents or step-siblings.
It is extremely crucial that a child understands the reasons for the move and understands their circumstances will be minimally affected. Following this guide will ensure a smooth and easy transition through the relocation custody process and a child’s adaptation into a new life with a new environment.
Relocation custody cases can either have negative or positive effects on a child, and both parties must be on the same page.
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