Dealing with a proposed parental relocation

Griffin Law, PLLC
Jan 09, 2020

There is no denying that a divorce can be a painful process (even for those who push for it). In its aftermath, the memories of a couple’s time together remain, which can make it difficult for both sides to move on. This may prompt many who have gone through such a process to desire to move away. Relocation is a prospect that many divorcees may face (whether it be the decision to relocate to seeing one’s ex-spouse move away); indeed, family matters are among the most common reasons why (according to over 10 percent of the U.S. population relocates annually. When child custody issues are involved, that can complicate the process.

One parent wanting to move away with the kids will almost certainly affect a couple’s custody and visitation agreement. It will almost certainly place an added burden on the non-relocating parent to maintain consistent contact with the kids. Many might assume that a move would likely trigger a child custody modification. Yet according to information shared by the UNC School of Government, local courts tend to avoid allowing for modifications of custody agreements absent any substantial change in a couple’s circumstances. State court rulings have implied that the court does typically not consider a relocation (even one that sees children moved to another state) as a substantial change.

This does not necessarily mean that a non-relocating parent cannot seek a custody modification in advance of a proposed move. The burden of proof simply falls to them to show why the move would significantly impact their custodial situation. If one can successfully make such a case, the court can indeed order that changes to an agreement be made to make it easier for said parent to remain involved in their kids’ lives (even up to allowing more custodial time).

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