You believe your children need both parents to grow into happy, healthy adults. That is why you agreed to share custody or allow visitation with your former spouse. However, you were just promoted, and your new job will require a move. Or maybe you are longing to live closer to your relatives. Whatever the reason, the time has come for you to relocate, but you are not sure whether you can legally move with your kids.
Review your custody agreement
You should start by reviewing your child custody agreement. The agreement may contain limits on how many miles away you can move, or if you can move out of state. It may also contain a provision regarding what type of notice you have to give your spouse or require you to attempt mediation before filing litigation.
Factors affecting your ability to move
Unless the other parent consents to the move in writing, you will generally need to seek permission from the court before moving out of the state. If you leave the state without the other parent’s consent and without a court order allowing the move, the other parent may be able to file for emergency custody of the children or apply for a temporary restraining order requiring you to return to the state until custody can be decided by a judge. If you are asking the court for permission to move, North Carolina courts look at the following factors in considering a parent’s request to relocate:
- The advantages of the relocation in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the child
- The motives of the custodial parent in seeking the move
- The likelihood that the custodial parent will comply with visitation orders when the parent is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the NC courts
- The integrity of the noncustodial parent in resisting the relocation
- The likelihood that a realistic visitation schedule can be arranged which will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent
- What is best for the children
The other parent can bring you to court
The other parent can oppose your request to relocate in court. The burden of proof is generally on the party requesting the relocation. If the other parent prevails, the court cannot order you not to move, but they can grant the other parent primary physical custody of the children and establish a visitation schedule for you based on your move.
You may be unsure of what procedures are required to successfully request or defend against a proposed relocation, so reaching out to a family law attorney who can build a case around the required legal factors might be helpful.