What To Know About Moving Out of State and Child Custody

What happens when a divorced parent wants to move out of state with their child? Obviously, if the other parent agrees, the process is fairly straightforward in terms of explaining to a family court why the move is being made.

There are, however, situations in which a parent wants to move out of state, but the other parent does not agree with the move for one reason or another.

But before diving deeper into this issue, it’s important to remember the distinction between a parent taking a child out of state on a brief trip, and child relocation, which is a permanent move.

After a divorce, Florida law does not require a parent to get the permission of the other parent if he or she wants to take a child out of state for a trip. But if taking the child out of state violates the existing custody arrangement, then the parent would have to get the written consent of their co-parent before he or she could take that child out of state.

In child relocation, however, the move is permanent, which means that the standards are higher for the parent to show that the move would be beneficial for the child.

Here are some of the factors that family court judges will take into consideration when hearing this type of child custody case.

Final Destination Is a Factor For Moving Out of State In Child Custody

In many states, the destination where the parent wants to move is a major consideration in whether the move will be allowed to happen. The reason is that the further away that the one parent and child are moving from the other parent and other family members, the less ‘beneficial’ that move may be.

That doesn’t mean that judges will not allow a parent to move to a state far away, but it does mean that the parent would have to demonstrate that despite the distance, the move to the new destination is still in their child’s best interest.

The Existing Consent Order Is Another Factor In Moving a Child Out of State

In some instances, the final divorce decree may include a parental agreement between the parents about instances in which their child could relocate to another state. If such an agreement exists, a judge may take this into strong consideration when deciding whether or not to agree to the move. However, the other parent can still object to the move if he or she believes that the move violates the divorce decree.

Depriving Child of Contact With the Other Parent Is Also a Factor

Another big factor a family judge will consider when hearing a child relocation case is whether the move would deprive the child of meaningful contact with the other parent.

And in fact, the objecting parent could present evidence of how involved he or she is in their child’s life, and argue that the move (especially if it’s to a far destination) would disrupt that relationship in a way that would be harmful to the child’s well-being.

A judge would be reluctant to allow a move that would negatively impact the relationship between the child and the other parent; however, the parent wanting to move could argue that the benefits of the move (higher wages, lower cost-of-living) outweigh the drawbacks.

Good Faith is An Important Factor

A parent must provide what is known as ‘good faith’ reasons for moving a child out of state.

Remember that when the parent files a petition to modify a child custody arrangement, he or she must show that a significant change in circumstance triggered the request.

Therefore, the parent making the request must show that the move is not being done on a whim, or to spite the other parent involved.

Good faith reasons would include:

  • A job move with an increase in pay that would provide a better standard of living for the child.
  • A move to a state with a lower cost of living that would also provide a better standard of living for the child.
  • A new marriage that includes a job transfer for the new spouse.

How Judges Make Their Final Decision

Although every request to move a child out of state has its own challenges, family judges usually focus on a specific set of considerations when making a decision, including:

  • The child’s age and maturity level.
  • How a potential move could negatively affect their child’s relationship with the other parent and other close family members.
  • The financial stability of parent who wants to move with the child.
  • Whether or not the parent has violated the visitation agreement in the past.
  • Special educational or health needs of the child.

A child relocation request is a big issue that can have long-term ramifications for the child, and for the relationship between the parents and other close family members.

Protecting Your Legal Rights

Whether you are a parent with an opportunity to move out of state to improve your earning power, or you are a co-parent who wants to block the other party from moving your child to another state, you will need an experienced family law firm to help you pursue your legal claim.

For more than 30 years, Eric C. Cheshire has been handling complex family law cases, and has earned a reputation as a lawyer who obtains results for his clients. Child custody claims are often difficult to navigate and require the expertise of a seasoned attorney. Please call us today at (561) 677-8090 to learn how we can help you.

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