After a divorce, it is common for one of the parents to want to move away from the area where the family lived prior to the divorce. When this happens, the issue of relocation enters the picture.
The distance of the desired move must be a minimum of 50 miles to even raise the issue of relocation before the court. Also, short-term moves do not implicate legalities of relocation, and the minimum duration must be at least 60 uninterrupted days to require permission.
Relocation by agreement
Ideally, the parents can come to an agreement on the relocation and important details that will change from the move. If they can do so, there will be no need to petition the court for permission. The agreement must include the following:
- Consent of both parties
- Details of the time-sharing schedule of the non-relocating parent
- Transportation specifics to fulfill the time-sharing
Ratification of the agreement by court order is necessary if there is already an action pending or an existing court order regarding time-sharing that must change. However, the court does not require a hearing if neither party requests it, and the court will readily ratify the new agreement presuming it is in the best interests of the child.
Relocation by petition
If the parents cannot agree to the relocation and related details, then the parent seeking relocation must petition the court. The procedures to petition the court for a relocation order are strict. The court will generally analyze a variety of factors, including the following:
- The reasons the petitioning parent seeks relocation
- The nature of the parent-child relationship
- The age and developmental needs of the child
- The ability to preserve relationship with non-relocating parent
- The child’s wishes
- The basis for objections of non-relocating parent
The court will consider all other factors to determine the best interests of the child and whether it should grant the relocation request.