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Summer Fun; No School, No Homework and a Move?

As we approach the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, it is the time when families typically relocate, if relocation is in their future. When contemplating a move, whether to the next county or across the country, parents have plenty to think about. Questions parents ask themselves include, "How do the schools rank? How close (or how far) will my new home be from family? Will my children be able to participate in the same activities?" Will this move be worth uprooting the lives of their children? Depending on the age of their children, parents may even be concerned about how they will feel about the move and the emotional ramifications of settling into a new location.

Parents who share custody of their children with a former spouse or partner have even more to consider before relocating. For example, does your children's other parent have to give his or her permission before you can move? Does he or she get to have a say when it comes to deciding where you live? While there may not have been cause to address these situations before, depending on your custody arrangement, the answer could be yes!


Often, if two parents have a parenting agreement or custody order, it may address relocation. If there is a parenting agreement or custody order, it may address relocation. If so, parents should check to see if there are geographical constraints. For example, the agreement or order may restrict parents from moving a certain distance from where he or she was living at the time the custody arrangement took effect. Does the agreement or order explain what happens if either parent wants to move? If so, those terms must be followed. Whatever the terms may be, the parent should comply or take reasonable measures to comply. Disregarding the terms of an agreement or order is one of the fastest ways to end up in court and, if the children's other parent does file an action against the parent who has disregarded the order, the judge will not look kindly upon defiant behavior - regardless of the motivation. If a parent moves with his or her children, without taking the proper steps to do so, the judge may order the parent to return the children and, in doing so, the judge may change the current custody arrangement in a way they feel serves the best interest of the child. Ultimately, it is less likely to be about what is best for the parent but instead what is best for the children.

For parents considering a move that is far away, the issue could become more complex. Does the agreement or order explain what happens if either parent wants to move? If so, again, those terms need to be followed. Maybe the parents are required to attend mediation so that both parents can try to resolve the issue out of court. In some cases, the only choice may be to return to court to allow the Judge to weigh the pros and cons of the move on the children along with their best interests.

If there is not have an agreement or order, or if the agreement or order does not address the issue of relocation, one parent often finds themselves at the mercy of the children's other parent. It may be best to discuss to discuss plans to move with the other parent early in the process to try to work out an arrangement that is beneficial to everyone.

In many situations, it can seem almost impossible for former parents to agree to a convenient location for parenting exchanges, let alone one parent's relocation. So, what happens when parties can't reach an agreement? Or they know that it won't be worth the try? A parent contemplating a move should consider talking with a family law attorney who can advise him or her on the specific options available to and the best way to proceed in their case. If they don't already have a custody order, he or she may want to make a claim for custody. If they already have an order, they may want to ask the court to modify your current custody arrangement.

Children should always be the top consideration when making a decision that will directly affect them. Even if a parent believes relocation is in their child's best interest, he or she needs to be prepared and know all of their options before you make any decisions.

If you are considering relocating, I would be glad to speak with you about the process.


Andrea Anders
Personal Injury & Family Law

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