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FAMILY LAW ARTICLES

March 1, 2021
Move Aways: What Is the Distance of the Move?

This post continues the discussion about factors the court must consider when a request is made for child(ren) to move away with one parent.

The distance of the move is often a key to the move away request. If the primary custodian lives far from the other parent, it will hinder the child’s ability to build a relationship and spend time with that parent.

Four Categories to Consider

There are four categories to consider where distance is concerned:

  • Within the county.
  • Within the state.
  • Within the United States.
  • Outside the United States.

Within the county is generally not a huge consideration. It can be if it’s a large county. You might have an order that stipulates mileage, so the other parent will have to be notified and agree when it’s outside that mileage. For most custody cases, within the county is not going to be an issue. This will depend on the convenience of traveling back and forth and whether the distance is detrimental to one parent’s ability to spend time with the child.

Moving Within the State

Many states have their own laws that govern the way custody traditionally works, so it’s best to work with an attorney in that state. For the most part, you would need to give notice to the other party if you’re moving within the state. They might have a period of time to object to that notice by filing a motion with the court. This is a broad generalization, which is why you need to have an attorney who is experienced in the law as it pertains to the state you’re in.

In some states, you can move anywhere as long as you’re within the state itself. This can pose a problem for the non-custodial parent because it might be several hours of travel in order to pick up and drop off the child. In some cases, this can be ironed out through a court order to determine which parent’s responsibility it is to pick up and drop off the child. Each case is individual to the parents and child and the court will generally put the child’s best interest as a priority in making these arrangements.

Moving Out of State, but Within the United States

The laws of the United States still apply as long as the child resides within the country. The distance when the custodial parent moves to another state can be an issue when it comes to visitation time. Continuing frequent contact with the non-custodial parent is in the best interest of the child (as long as there is no abuse). There are many reasons that may make moving out-of-state necessary for a family. The parents may have career opportunities in different states, and it’s in their best financial and future interest to follow these pursuits. Mandating that both parents live in the same state might put one parent at a financial disadvantage.

Ideally, parents can work through the distance issues with the best interest of the child in mind. Of course, that’s not always possible. The court can mandate issues like travel and time-sharing to make the situation more equitable and beneficial for the child. Often when there are concerns of flying, the visitation will not be as frequent as it is for in-state and in-county location arrangements. The court may opt to give the non-custodial parent lengthier visit times during school breaks and non-custodial parents may opt to fly into the child’s state to visit more frequently, as well.

Moving Outside the Country

If the custodial parent wants to move outside the country, The Hague Convention is a concern. The country where the child is moving needs to be a Hague Convention Signatory. The Hague Convention Treaties deal with child custody and enforcement issues. Many countries have not signed onto The Hague Convention, and it’s something to be concerned with because the non-custodial parent will have no recourse if the custodial parent does not honor the agreement.

If you or your co-parent is considering a significant move, it’s important that you consult an attorney who can help protect your parental rights and your child’s best interest.

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