If you have custody of your child, you and your child should be able to move out of state without anyone else’s permission, right? Wrong! Most states have enacted laws that prohibit custodial parents from taking their children and moving out of state without notice to the court and/or the other parent. These laws are designed to prevent a custodial parent from removing a child from the state without the other parent’s knowledge, which can result in no visitation and/or contact between the non-custodial parent and child. Furthermore, failure to comply with these laws can result in very serious consequences for you and your child. Therefore, it is extremely important that you talk to a lawyer and become aware of your state’s laws regarding the relocation of a custodial parent BEFORE you move out of state.
The complexity of the different state laws concerning this issue varies. Some states require the custodial parent to take certain actions before moving out of state or even within the same state, if the new location is more than 50 – 70 miles away from the original location. These requirements range from formally notifying the court and the other parent in writing of the planned relocation, to the setting of a hearing for the purposes of determining whether custody, visitation, and child support ought to be modified in light of the move. The court may also make new arrangements for longer visitation time periods, depending on the distance involved, as well as the payments of the increased costs of visitation; if it is you who are moving out of state, then you may even be responsible for the transportation costs for visitation.
Whatever your state’s laws might be, it is essential that you follow the rules and comply with these requirements. If you don’t comply with these requirements, the court could order you to move back to the original state with your child, prohibit you from leaving the state with your child, order you to pay the other parent’s attorney fees, and even remove the child from your custody. As you can see, failure to comply with these laws can have very serious consequences.
Depending on the law in your state, you may think twice about your decision to move out of state, especially if it will result in you losing custody of your child. You’ll also want to carefully consider the reasons behind your desire to move out of state. While courts tend to be approving of valid, reasonable reasons for moving away, such as for employment purposes, courts aren’t typically impressed by other reasons, such as moving away from an established network of family and friends in order to live with a new boyfriend. Plus, the court will also consider the negative effects on the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent that will result from the move. If the court gets the impression that you are moving simply to keep the noncustodial parent out of you and your child’s lives, then the court is unlikely to approve of your planned move.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.