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When can a parent relocate with a child?

Child custody can be a stressful part of the divorce process, but parental relocation can potentially create even more anxiety for parents if a parent wants to relocate with the child. Because relocations are not uncommon following a divorce or separation, it is helpful for parents to understand how the family law process views the issue so that they know what to expect.

Because parental relocation can have a significant impact on a child, their parents, and family, there are certain rules surrounding parental relocations. As is true of any child custody concern, including parental relocation, the best interests of the child standard is used to determine whether or not the relocation should be permitted. There are some valid reasons to consider a parental relocation, and parents requesting a relocation or parents considering, or opposing, a request for relocation should be familiar with what those are.

A parental relocation may be requested if the move would place the child and the relocating parent closer to extended family members; if the move would allow the relocating parent to pursue better job opportunities and employment opportunities; and when the proposed relocation would still allow the parent who is not relocating to continue to enjoy regular visitation.

The best interests of the child will generally lean towards as little disruption of the child's life as possible. In some circumstances, the court may immediately assume that relocation is not in the best interests of the child and the parent requesting the relocation will have to demonstrate the reasons why it is in the best interests of the child. The parent who is requesting the relocation should be prepared to provide the court with a relocation plan that includes several components. When determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court will consider the age and maturity of the child, the distance between where the child is currently living and where they will be relocating if the relocation is permitted, and if the relocation will improve the child's qualify of life.

It is helpful for the parent who is thinking about relocating with the child to inform the other parent as soon as possible. Because parental relocation can have a significant impact on everyone involved, the family law process provides resources to help families decide when relocation would be best for the child.

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