One issue that frequently arises in child custody cases is where one parent wants to move a significant distance away from the other parent. These “move cases” might arise when a parent needs to move for economic reasons, or when the parent wants to move (such as to be nearer to friends or family).
Where a parent plans to move far enough away that the current custody and visitation schedule is no longer feasible, that parent has the burden of proving to the court that the move is in the best interests of the kids. Note that the court cannot order that the parent must not move — such an order would be outside of the scope of the court’s jurisdiction. However, the court can decide whether the kids will make the move with the parent.
As with all child custody issues, the judge hearing a move case should consider a variety of factors to consider what outcome is in fact in the best interests of the kids, including the following:
- The wishes of the parents and the children (if the children are suitably mature to express an opinion);
- The relationship between the kids and their parents;
- The stability and involvement of the parents in their kids’ lives;
- Community resources in the two locations, including quality of schools, opportunities for extracurricular activities, and proximity to non-parental loved ones;
- Special needs of the kids;
- Whether any domestic violence has occurred;
- The reason the parent is choosing to move;
- The need to promote continuity and stability in the kids’ lives; and
- Misconduct by either parent, including alienating behaviors.
In short, the court is permitted to consider essentially any fact raised by the parents that suggests moving is either good or bad for the kids. Thus, move cases (as with many child custody cases), can be difficult cases for the parties to present to the court and for the judge to decide. As with all custody cases, excellent presentation of the facts, and skillful argument are important to obtaining a good outcome.
If you or someone you know are dealing with a possible “move case” or other child custody issue, please call Learned Lawyer PLLC today.