Moving with children after a divorce can become a very complicated endeavor. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible. But it’s important to carefully look into all of your legal obligations and make sure you take the right steps first.
After all, you likely have a co-parenting plan and a child custody arrangement with your ex. If the two of you are sharing access to the children, then you cannot violate this court order. In fact, those who do violate their order may run the risk of having their custody rights taken away by the court.
Does this mean you can’t move?
Some people interpret the reality of being subject to custody restrictions and/or the terms of a parenting plan as essentially telling them that they cannot move any substantial distance. Even just moving a few hours away – let alone to another state – could make exchanging the children on the schedule determined in the co-parenting plan impossible.
But this doesn’t mean that a modification to a custody order and/or parenting plan is impossible. You will either need to secure your co-parent’s consent to seek an uncontested modification or you’ll need to file a contested modification request with the court. When you do so, a judge may ask you why you want to move, and they will need to see good faith reasons that illustrate you’re not doing this intentionally to limit your ex’s access to the kids.
There are a wide variety of potential reasons the court will consider, as every situation is unique. For example, maybe you need more help raising the children now that you’ve gotten divorced, so you want to move closer to extended family members. Or maybe you need to earn more money now that you’re down to one income, so you want to take a job that was offered in another city. A third example could be if you are just moving due to factors that could benefit you and your child, such as improving your education or looking for a lower cost of living.
Taking steps in the proper order
As long as it is justified, the court may be willing to make a modification that allows you to move without compromising your rights to keep your kids with you. Just remember to do things in the proper order. Never move or violate an order without first getting a modification approved. If you’re thinking about moving and you co-parent, be sure you understand exactly what legal steps you will need to take by seeking legal guidance as proactively as possible.