Moving to Another State with Your Minor | Child Custody

by Child Custody, Family Law, Parenting Time

Child Custody Matters: Moving to Another State with Your Child

Suppose the non-custodial parent has been granted parenting time with their minor child by court order. In that case, the custodial parent may not move with the child to another state unless the non-custodial parent agrees to the move or upon the court’s order. In addition, the court will not allow the move if the purpose of the move by the custodial parent is to interfere with the non-custodial parent’s court-ordered parenting time with the child. As in a child custody proceeding, the court will consider the child’s best interests when deciding whether to allow the custodial parent to move with the child to another state. The burden of proof is on the custodial parent. This means the custodial parent must convince the court that the move to another state is in the child’s best interests. The only exception is if the custodial parent has been a victim of domestic abuse by the non-custodial parent. If so, the burden of proof is switched to the non-custodial parent, who must convince the court that the proposed move is not in the child’s best interests.

Factors involved with moving out of state with a minor child

The factors the court must consider in a child custody case are, but are not limited to:

  1. the child’s relationship with both parents and other significant family members and persons;
  2. the child’s age, development, and needs, and the likely impact of the move on the child;
  3. the likelihood of preserving the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent through suitable parenting time arrangements, taking into consideration both parents’ schedules and finances;
  4. the child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to state a reasonable preference regarding the proposed move;
  5. whether there is an established pattern by the custodial parent to promote or interfere with the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent;
  6. whether the move will enhance the child and the custodial parent’s quality of life;
  7. the reasons for each parent for seeking or opposing the move; and
  8. the safety and welfare of the child and the custodial parent if there has been domestic abuse.


Court Hearings

The court will usually hold a hearing to consider the custodial parent’s request to move to another state with the minor child. Both parents will be allowed to call and cross-examine witnesses and offer other evidence to the court (report cards, job offers, housing and schooling information, etc.). The court also will likely consider both parents’ finances and the ability to arrange and pay for travel for the child and/or one or both parents across state lines.

It is important to note that the standard is the same regardless of the state the custodial parent intends to move to. It is the same standard for a custodial parent seeking to move to Wisconsin or North Dakota as it is for the custodial parent to move to California. However, the court is likely to take a more critical approach to a move further away than a move to a bordering state since the drive time between bordering states often can be as short as or shorter than when both parents live in Minnesota.


Practical considerations to think about before considering a move to a different state

There are a few practical considerations worth remembering. One, since arranging parenting time and travel accommodations across state lines can be difficult, it is important that the parents, or at least the custodial parent, be able to cooperate when an out-of-state move is requested. This includes the ability to resolve parenting disputes without regular court involvement. Two, technological advances (email, Facebook, Skype) allow for more frequent and meaningful contact when a parent lives out of state. Lastly, quality of life considerations are often very important, as set forth in the sixth factor. A significantly better job opportunity in another state that will improve both the custodial parent’s and the child’s standard of living while simultaneously providing funds for travel between both parents’ homes will weigh in favor of granting the request to move with the child.


Seek legal advice before making decisions

When seeking to move or to prevent a move to another state, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Attorney Kay Snyder is a trusted and experienced family law attorney at Jeddeloh Snyder Stommes who can represent you when issues like this arise.

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