Developing a custody agreement is often a long and stressful process, and the divorced parent’s lives can change in drastic ways after a custody agreement has already been established. Fortunately, the court system allows divorced parents to revisit and amend an existing custody agreement in light of changing life circumstances. For example, if your employer offers you a fantastic promotion that requires relocating to a different state, you may need to weigh the potential financial benefits against the time you spend with your kids.
Every parent must ultimately make these decisions on an individual basis. However, if you reach such a decision and need to amend your custody agreement, you must take time to reach out to the other parent. These discussions may be difficult, but things may be even more difficult when it comes to telling a noncustodial parent you intend to move.
Physical Custody and Moving
When one parent has primary physical custody or majority custody over a child with an ex-spouse, the custodial parent has the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. One such decision could be moving to a new state. If you have primary physical custody over your children and intend to move, you must inform the noncustodial parent of your decision. Some child custody agreements may even have strict stipulations as to time limits for giving the noncustodial parent notice about these things.
Violating your custody agreement could have a negative impact on your custody rights and your relationship with your ex and your children, so be sure to carefully review your custody agreement and follow all rules pertaining to major decisions.
If a custodial parent intends to move, he or she must file a written notice to the noncustodial parent. This notice must include the date and time of the intended move, the reason for relocation, and the address of the custodial parent’s new residence. The noncustodial parent usually has the option to object to this move, and the parents may need to return to court for a ruling.
Most states have specific rules when it comes to providing a noncustodial parent with notice of a move, but some child custody agreements will specify these matters on an individual basis. For example, a divorcing couple may include mutually agreed upon grounds for relocation in their custody agreement. Always refer to the child custody agreement before making any major decisions about relocating, and consult with an attorney before proceeding.
Relocation With a Child Custody Agreement
Every state has unique laws for handling relocation-related issues in child custody agreements, but typically the parents must provide the court with a sound list of reasons supporting or condemning the proposed move. The noncustodial parent may seek to prevent the custodial parent from moving with the children or adjusting the custody agreement to secure primary physical custody.
As with all matters related to child custody, the court has a legal duty to rule in favor of the best interests of the children. The judge hearing the relocation matter will assess the custodial parent’s proposed reasons for relocating, such as taking a lucrative new job or moving closer to extended family, and then weigh them against the noncustodial parent’s grounds for refusing the relocation request. The court has a responsibility to assess the potential positive and negative effects of a relocation on a couple’s children.
The court may determine that the custodial parent taking a promotion in a new state and adjusting primary custody to the noncustodial parent remaining in the area would be a net benefit to the couple’s children. Such an arrangement could mean more financial support for the children’s futures with minimal disruption in their day-to-day routines.
If you notify your noncustodial ex that you intend to move, prepare for the possibility of amending your custody agreement and be sure to follow the applicable time limits and procedure for notifying your ex. For more information on child relocation and custody arraignments, contact a divorce specialist in Fort Collins.