These days it is not uncommon for a parent to need to relocate for a job. While today’s global economy has allowed some to work remotely, it has also required moves out of state or even out of the country. These job changes can be exciting and help catapult your career to the next level, but they can and often do create a big problem regarding child custody and whether or not the child is allowed to move with the custodial parent. Rightfully so, the non-custodial parent is concerned that they will not be able to see their children as often and it will be virtually impossible for them to be involved in the children’s day-to-day activities like ballgames, school plays, dance, the list goes on and on. Modifying a child custody agreement can seem daunting and, admittedly, can be difficult, but not impossible. Your first step is calling your attorney to discuss the matter; therefore, allowing the two of you to gather the appropriate evidence to support the move with your children. Then, we at, Kevin Hickey Law Partners, always recommend trying discussing the matter with your ex before taking it to court if you have any communication at all with your ex. Anything settled out of court is always the preferred method, but, unfortunately, often can’t be settled that way leaving you with the only other option of filing for a child custody agreement modification.
Most child custody agreements state that the custodial parent must get permission for moving with the children if outside the parameters set forth. There will often be a specified distance or described geographically. For instance, permission from the other parent must be received to move more than 30 miles or you may not be allowed to move out of the city. These agreed upon distance parameters are another reason it is important to have an attorney when making the initial agreement, because our firm will help you determine on the front end if a job relocation might be necessary in the future for you and your career. If we are able to discern this in the beginning, then we can build an exception to the custody agreement that a career move may be required. Even if this was built into the original custody agreement, we always recommend you discuss a move with the other parent, to keep the peace and to avoid your ex filing a modification request. Remember, the same as you can ask for a modification to move, the other parent can ask for a modification to prevent you from moving even if it is built into the original custody agreement.
If an agreement can’t be reached out of court, the first step in modifying a child custody agreement is doing your homework to prove your position in court. It is crucial for you and your attorney to prepare beforehand to gather strong evidence and arguments in support of your need to relocate. A court is looking specifically for:
- A legitimate reason for the move, i.e., a career change, remarriage or medical issue.
- The move is reasonable in light of its purpose. In other words, you’re not moving just because you feel like it.
- The move is in your children’s best interests. As unfortunate as it is, many parents make a move just to spite the other parent and make life difficult for them. If a judge discovers this, it will not reflect kindly upon you.
After the evidence is presented, to decide if the relocation is in fact in the best interest of the children they will consider many factors including, but not limit to:
- The children’s relationships with both parents.
- The impact of the move regarding the children’s ability to spend meaningful time with both parents.
- The feasibility of making alternative parenting time arrangements to accommodate the move.
- Economic, emotional and educational benefits received from the move.
- If the children are old enough, the court will consider their preferences when making their decision.
Family law matters involving children and a parent’s ability to see his or her children are complex and difficult to maneuver. That is why it is important to consult with an attorney that specializes in family law. We at Kevin Hickey Law Partners have helped many parents work through relocation and custodial agreement modifications. Let our experience and expertise work for you. Call today.