How Are “Move-Away” Custody Cases Handled?

Move-away child custody cases occur when one of the custodial parents wants to relocate with the couple’s child to a new geographic location.  One parent may be relocating due to a new job, remarriage or a return to a home country.  Even moving to a nearby city can disrupt the child’s regular routine and cause stress to all parties involved. 

If one parent’s move affects the other parent’s custody of the child, then a court hearing may be needed to determine what is best for the child.  Child custody lawyers and judges handle these cases very carefully.  

There are several factors the court will take into consideration when determining a new custody agreement.

How is the child’s time with each parent currently divided?

Courts will first look at the current custody order and see how much time the child is spending with each parent and how long that arrangement has been in place.  Connections to friends, extended family and school are then examined.  If the current custody agreement is relatively new, some states won’t allow any changes for at least two years.

How far is the parent moving?

Moves that are a few hours away by car are not scrutinized as closely as moves to distant states or out of the country. Courts have very strict guidelines for overseas moves.  Among the considerations are risks and dangers to the child in the foreign country, the child’s ability to adapt to a different culture and whether the Court’s decision will be respected in the child’s new country.

Why is the parent moving?

Some states don’t require an explanation from the parent who is relocating.  However, if a child custody lawyer presents evidence and the court believes that one parent is using the move to reduce or stop the other parent’s involvement with the child, they will take it into strong consideration and rule against any move.  

What is the child’s age?

Very small children may have a strong bond with both parents and not understand what is happening.  This lack of understanding may cause anxiety, especially as relates to a dramatically changed visitation schedule.

Older children may be given permission to testify as to which custodial terms they prefer.  In California, children over the age of 14 can testify in court, unless the Court determines that it is not in the child’s best interest.

How is the current relationship between the parents?

Finally, the Court will evaluate how well the parents get along.  Are they on speaking terms?  Have they discussed the move?  Most importantly, can they put their own interests aside and do what’s best for their child?

Child custody lawyers are seeing more move-away cases in today’s increasingly mobile world.  While these cases can be difficult, everyone working together to make sure the parent-child relationship remains loving and stable is by far the best strategy. Contact a law office like Knochel Law Offices, PC if you find yourself in a similar situation.

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