Q: I want to move out of state to be back with my family. Naturally I want to bring our young sons with me. My ex says I am not allowed to and is opposed to this. I don’t know what to do.
A: Child custody arrangements can become a very challenging matter for families on many levels, but especially when one parent desires to move away. Child custody orders are legally binding. Courts nearly always strive to enable both parents to maintain ongoing relationships with the children.
When one of the parents feels a need to move, whether due to a job relocation or for personal reasons, how this will affect the children needs to be given a priority consideration. In point of fact, this is a legal valuation. The interests and needs of the children are pre-eminent.
When both parents are in agreement regarding a custody arrangement, the courts usually go along with it. In your case, the courts will consider a number of issues here. First, who has been the primary caregiver? The children’s wishes will be given consideration, and in the case of older children the wishes of the child will usually prevail.
The courts will want to know whether your move is necessary because it can potentially disrupt the relationships your sons have at school and in the community.
Here are two things you will want to do if you decide you are going to move away.
- Review your original child custody order so you know where you stand. The child custody order is a binding agreement that was made at the time of your divorce. Check to see if it addresses parent relocation. Then see how it affects your current schedule plan. If moving out of state it will very likely disrupt your current arrangements.
- Meet with a family attorney to help you determine your chances of success based on current custody arrangements and other factors. Your attorney would then file a motion to the court on your behalf. Since all states have different laws, your attorney will be your best advocate for navigating the red tape in your own situation.