Last week, we discussed in broad terms what happens when one member of a divorced couple decides to move away and the couple has minor children in common. This week, we’ll delve into what happens in the event that the non-relocating ex-spouse does not agree to the relocation request: a court relocation hearing.
At the hearing, the court will examine the current custody arrangement—which was originally drafted with the best interest of the child in mind. If one parent is planning to move to a location far enough away that it would inhibit visitation or shared custody by the other parent, then the court must consider whether the move is in the best interest of the child. There is no precise formula to determine what is best for a child, but some factors the court might consider are:
- Does the move have any ulterior motives (i.e., is the moving parent trying to thwart the other parent’s visitation)?
- Have both parents shown themselves to be capable of taking care of a child?
- Does either parent provide a better home environment for a child?
- Does either parent have a history of abuse or neglect?
- Does the child have a close relationship with both parents?
- (If old enough): does the child have a desire to live with one parent over the other?
Depending on the findings of the court, it could opt to block the relocating parent from moving, or it could develop a modification to the child custody agreement.
A relocation hearing can be a jarring experience for any parent. It is important to have an experienced child custody attorney on your side to ensure that your position is thoroughly supported.