Can You Move Out of State With Joint Custody? What You Need To Know

Moving out of state can be a challenging decision for anyone, but especially for parents who share joint custody of their children with their ex-spouse.

Joint custody means that both parents have legal rights and responsibilities regarding their children’s upbringing, education, health, and welfare.

Relinquishing child custody
Relinquishing child custody | Famlaw

It also means that both parents have a right to spend time with their children and maintain a close relationship with them.

However, sometimes life circumstances may require or compel a parent to relocate to another state, such as for a new job, a better living situation, a remarriage, or a family emergency.

In such cases, the parent who wishes to move with the children must obtain permission from the other parent or the court before moving.

Otherwise, they may face legal consequences, such as being held in contempt of court, losing custody rights, or even facing criminal charges for parental kidnapping.

How to Get Permission to Move Out of State With Joint Custody

The first step to moving out of state with joint custody is to notify the other parent of your intention to move as soon as possible.

Ideally, you should try to reach an agreement with the other parent about the move and how it will affect the custody and visitation arrangements.

You may need to modify the existing custody order to reflect the new situation and ensure that the other parent still has frequent and meaningful contact with the children.

If you and the other parent can agree on the move and the changes to the custody order, you can submit a written agreement to the court for approval.

The court will usually approve the agreement as long as it is in the best interests of the children and does not violate any state laws or public policies.

However, if you and the other parent cannot agree on the move or the changes to the custody order, you will need to file a motion with the court and request permission to relocate with the children.

The court will then schedule a hearing to decide whether to grant or deny your request.

How the Court Decides Whether to Allow the Move

The court’s decision on whether to allow the move will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The reason for the move and whether it is in good faith or motivated by a desire to interfere with the other parent’s rights
  • The distance of the move and how it will affect the children’s relationship with the other parent and their extended family, friends, school, and community
  • The age and preferences of the children, if they are old enough to express their opinion
  • The impact of the move on the children’s physical, emotional, and educational well-being
  • The feasibility and cost of maintaining a regular visitation schedule and communication between the children and the other parent
  • The history and quality of the relationship between the children and each parent, and each parent’s ability and willingness to foster the children’s relationship with the other parent
  • Any other relevant factors that the court deems important.
The court will weigh these factors and determine whether the move is in the best interests of the children, which is the primary standard for deciding custody issues.

The court will also consider the rights and interests of both parents, but the children’s best interests will always prevail over the parents’ preferences.

The parent who wants to move has the burden of proof to show that the move is beneficial for the children and that it will not harm their relationship with the other parent.

The parent who opposes the move has the opportunity to present evidence and arguments to show that the move is detrimental for the children and that it will disrupt their stability and continuity.

The court will make its decision based on the evidence and testimony presented by both parties, as well as the recommendations of any experts or professionals involved in the case, such as child psychologists, social workers, or guardians ad litem.

What to Do If the Court Grants or Denies the Request to Move

If the court grants the request to move, the parent who is moving must comply with the new custody order and the relocation laws of the state.

Depending on the state, the parent may need to provide the other parent and the court with the new address and contact information, as well as a proposed visitation schedule and transportation plan.

The parent must also respect the other parent’s rights and obligations under the custody order and facilitate the children’s communication and visitation with the other parent.

If the court denies the request to move, the parent who wanted to move must abide by the existing custody order and the relocation laws of the state.

Depending on the state, the parent may not be able to move with the children without the court’s permission, even if the move is within the same state or a short distance away.

The parent must also cooperate with the other parent and the court to ensure that the children’s best interests are protected and promoted.

Conclusion

Moving out of state with joint custody is not a simple matter. It requires careful planning, communication, and cooperation between the parents and the court.

It also involves a delicate balance between the rights and interests of both parents and the best interests of the children.

If you are considering moving out of state with joint custody, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can advise you on the legal requirements and implications of your decision.

An attorney can also help you negotiate with the other parent, prepare the necessary documents, and represent you in court if needed.

Moving out of state with joint custody can be a positive or a negative experience for the children, depending on how the parents handle the situation.

The parents should always keep the children’s best interests in mind and try to minimize the disruption and stress that the move may cause.

The parents should also support the children’s adjustment to the new environment and encourage their continued relationship with the other parent.

By doing so, the parents can help the children thrive and grow in their new home.

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