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The basics of pursuing a child custody move-away case

If you are a parent who has been through a child custody dispute with your ex, you know the process is not easy. In addition, you may find yourself in another contentious custody situation if you ever need to move away with your child later down the line.

American family courts generally recognize that significant moves (especially those that cross state lines) can impact not only the best interests of the child but also the parenting time of both parents involved. As a result, move-away cases are sometimes frowned upon when the parent seeking to move is not doing so for valid reasons that will ultimately benefit the child in question.

On the other hand, the parent submitting the child custody move-away petition could have very valid reasons for wanting to move. It is important that anyone submitting a petition to move a child a significant distance from his or her other parent understands the factors that a judge is going to consider before making a decision. Similarly, anyone looking to oppose such a petition should be aware of the basics of this process as well.

Reasons for the move

In rare cases, parents choose to move away with their kids simply to spite their children’s other parent. It is not a common occurrence, but it does happen. A good attorney will help a judge to view that parent’s motivations clearly.

In most move-away cases, a child’s parent either has solid reasons for wanting to move or has at least understandable reasons for this change. Examples of good reasons to move include:

  • Moving to be closer to family who can help with childcare
  • Moving to be closer to elderly relatives who might be in poor health
  • Moving to be placed in a position for a better paying job

Simply because one’s reasons for moving are solid does not mean that a petition to move will be granted, however. Every case is unique. In general, what a judge will be most concerned about is whether the move will ultimately benefit or harm the child. Therefore, it is important to consider one’s reasons for moving – or opposing a move – from the perspective of how that move will impact a child.

Distance and the relationship between the parents matter

Judges are generally more likely to approve of a move if that change in location does not place a child unreasonably far from his or her other parent. If the move is only across town, the petition has a better chance of succeeding. If the move is across the country, the ability of the other parent to visit might be significantly impacted. This challenge may render a petition less likely to succeed.

In addition, if the relationship between the parents has been good so far, the petition is more likely to be granted. Parents who have remained on good terms and have worked to facilitate visitation of the other parent are more likely to win the favor of the judge. If a co-parenting relationship is contentious, however, a judge may be skeptical of whether the parents in question can make their relationship work long-distance.