Divorce is never easy, and when children are involved, it is easy for emotions to run high. It is also true that as long as you have kids, the process of renegotiating the boundaries of a divorce never truly closes. There are always going to be times when things need to be revisited because circumstances have changed. One of those times is when a co-parent moves out of state. “Move-away” cases are fairly common, and they put a strain on families when they happen, but for those who are remaining, there are steps to ensure that custody and contact and maintained.
Restrictions on moving out of state
Typically, when a joint custody arrangement is reached, the spouse who has primary custody of the child cannot move out of state without a revised court order from the state that originally issued the divorce and custody agreement. Going back to court to seek a change in the custody arrangement means re-opening the issue of custody, and the good news is that judges do tend to favor keeping a child in-state when it is appropriate.
How courts decide custody in multi-state cases
There are a few factors that courts take into account when weighing custody issues in these kinds of cases. Among them are the social ties the child has with the community. Here is the list of priorities considered by the court:
- The child’s connection to teachers, family members, coaches and other members of the community
- The safety and stability of the child’s living situation
- Whether the child currently resides in the state
It is also possible under many circumstances for a court to bar a relocation if the move would substantially inconvenience one of the parents or deprive them of contact with the child. In those circumstances, the parent seeking to relocate is typically given a choice between surrendering primary physical custody and staying in-state.
Joint custody across state lines
If a move to another state does not involve a massive relocation, it is also possible to modify the original custody arrangement to allow for the relocation, or to adjust it to allow for easier transitions between households at appropriate times. In those cases, an experienced attorney can help he negotiations by making sure each party understands the new arrangement and that they legal details reflect the agreement they have made.
A person who shares custody of a child with an ex-spouse who is moving should contact an attorney today.