Moving to a new state following a divorce can become a major issue when there are children and custody arrangements to consider. Each state has its own laws surrounding parental custody outlining the acceptable distance of residence from a non-custodial parent or a parent with joint custody.
The burden of proof in some states is on the custodial parent. In other states, it is on the non-custodial parent. Some states require the non-custodial parent to file a restraining order to prevent the move. In the case of joint custody, it often ends up at a new trial for the court to decide with both parties presenting their side of the issue.
Courts generally look favorably upon a long-distance move out of state with children if there is proof that it will result in a better quality of life for the children. An example of this often includes moving closer to extended family who live in a different state or relocating as a result of a salary increase or promotion at work.
When considering a move out of state with children after a divorce, do your research to prepare and present proof that the new schools and neighborhoods will improve the children’s lives.
The court ultimately determines the terms of custody arrangements as part of the final divorce decree. Sometimes divorcing couples foresee a future relocation and write in special terms at the time of the divorce in the form of a “relocation clause”. However, many divorce decrees do not address the issue and require new trials to determine if a custodial parent may move with the children out of state.
Packing up and moving children from state to state should never be taken lightly. Most importantly, your motives for moving should be in the children’s best interests and not an attempt to keep the other parent from visiting with the children.