During divorce proceedings, couples have to divide the property and then figure out how to share parenting time with one another. Once the divorce is finalized, both parties live with the decision and move forward from there. But what happens if one parent wants to move? How does that affect a custody plan?
Though a child custody dispute can be resolved, relocation can cause a number of other complications. These issues can arise when one parent, who has primary custody of the child, gets remarried or simply needs a change of environment and wants to move. Relocation can cause problems, not only for the parents, but also the child.
Most states have laws that govern whether custodial parents can relocate. This is to ensure that the move is legitimate and that it will not disrupt the child's life. For the parent who has primary custody, relocation typically begins with a petition to the court. Then, the court will likely look at several things including:
- Reasons for the relocation
- How the non-custodial parent will remain in the child's life
- How the relocation impacts the child, such as the process of switching schools and finding new friends
- Whether the child has special needs
Even with a good reason to move and limited impact on the child's life, a custodial parent seeking to move may also run the risk of losing primary custody.
On the flip side, non-custodial parents generally have an easier time relocating. Generally courts do not require the non-custodial parent to have a good reason for moving. Ultimately, the children are the ones that are most impacted by a relocation.
Source: Huffington Post online, "Divorced + Children + Relocating? Fuhgeddaboudit," Beverly Willett, 08 February 2011