At the time of a divorce, many parents split their households and find a new residence within close proximity to the other to make exchanges and any child-related logistical matters, including schooling, extracurricular activities and peer access, equally accessible for both parents.
Sometimes, a dream job or opportunity arises that takes one parent to another city, state or even country. The way this impacts child custody and visitation will depend on existing custody orders, how far the parent relocates and other unique considerations.
Reasons for parental relocation
When a parent relocates, it can make it difficult, or even impossible, to exercise the same custody or visitation schedule. How child custody looks moving forward rests on the existing legal and physical custody arrangements, as well as the best interests of the children.
Parents looking to relocate, particularly if wishing to relocate the children as well, must include good faith reasons for making the move. These include:
- A better job, and therefore better lifestyle for the family
- Closeness to additional family members, including extended family
- A parent furthering his or her education
- A residence in a better area with an improved cost of living
- A regular visitation schedule would still be possible
Relocation in an effort to alienate the other parent or to negatively impact alimony or child support payments may lead to the court’s denial of the request, as these reasons do not reflect the children’s best interests.
Child custody orders
A relocating parent may seek a change in existing child custody orders. In these cases, the courts consider each parent’s relationship with the children. The courts also consider whether the current custody order needs to change, how a change would impact the children and how to facilitate the children’s relationship with each parent through a change.