How is a relocation of a parent handled? This is one of the most challenging aspects of representing parties in a child custody proceeding. You have a constitutional right to live wherever you choose. The issue then become, though, what happens to the children if you decide you want to move. While you may be able to move, it doesn’t mean that you can move and take the children with you if that’s going to impact the other parent’s parenting time.
The court handles the relocation of a parent based upon the stage that a situation or a case is in. There is a different legal standard for a relocation pre-decree or pre-permanent orders. The court handles that differently. After a parenting plan has been established there’s a different legal standard that the court applies. Here at Lewis and Matthews we can guide you regarding the factors that the court will look at.
Essentially the factors in either situation revolve around why do you want to move, why do you think it’s going to be in the best interest of the child or children to move with you, and what does the parenting plan going to look like? You have to come up with a parenting plan that is going to enable the other parent, the long distance, parent, to have adequate parenting time with the children. You have to think about the practicalities of that. If you have a very young child how are you going to allow the other party or how is the other party going to be able to exercise their parenting time? You can’t put a 2 year old easily on a plane to send them across the country. What are you going to do? How is that going to be handled?
With older children who are school age usually a long distance parenting plan is going to revolve around their school calendar. A typical long distance parenting plan involves being away from the children for long blocks of time. If you’re the person who is wanting to relocate with the children you have to ask yourself whether or not you’re going to be comfortable sending the children off to visit the other parent for most of the summer. That is a typical long distance parenting arrangement for older children. They’re going to go and spend most of the summer with the other parent. They’re going to go and spend likely every other Thanksgiving with the other parent in most or at least half of every Christmas break with the other parent, also, often a good chuck of spring break or all of spring with the other parent. You’re going to have to be comfortable being away from your children for a long period of time.
I find this is a situation where people really struggle in a relocation case. A relocation cases are very difficult because it’s just hard to divide up children. How are you going to handle that is one of the toughest challenges that we have here at Lewis and Matthews and that the courts have in considering what to do if a parent wants to relocate.