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What to do when one parent wants to take the child out of state?

After divorce, couples generally set up separate residences. They could stay living in the same city they lived in while married, or one spouse may seek a fresh start in another part of the state — or another part of the world.

If you and your former spouse had no children, your decision to move a significant distance is largely none of the court’s business. But when children are involved, and the moving spouse wants to take the kids along with him or her, it may become a legal matter if the other spouse objects.

As with any child custody matter, a court fight over a possible relocation is likely to be highly emotional for both parents, both of whom are facing the prospect of living far away from their children. The judge, meanwhile, will consider several factors, such as:

  • Each parent’s argument in favor of or against relocation
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and his or her non-custodial parent, and how relocation would affect that relationship
  • The necessity of the relocation, for economic, relational or other reasons
  • The needs of the child, including emotional, academic and social needs

Of course, each parent would be well-served by having a family attorney representing them. If a parent opposes relocation, there will be a lot at stake for both exes. When each spouse is able to present clear, relevant evidence, the court is best able to examine the proposed move and determine whether moving away is indeed in the child’s best interests.