It happens at times that parents sharing custody may find that one of them has to move out of the area. The distance means that the custodial schedule the parents were once exercising now needs to change. Any move that disrupts the current custodial schedule, will require the moving parent to request move-away orders to modify the current schedule if the parents cannot agree. The Court will look at a number of different factors in determining whether moving the child would be in the child’s best interests.
First, do the parents currently share joint custody or does the moving parent have sole custody of the child? If the moving parent has sole custody of the child, there is a legal presumption that the custodial parent may move with the child unless the non-custodial parent can show that the move would be detrimental to the child. If the parents share joint custody, then there is no presumption that the child can go with either parent and the Court must consider the impact of the move against the child’s need for a stable and consistent environment, the ability to maintain contact with both parents, the child’s age, the child’s relationship to each parent, and the email may require the involvement of a child custody evaluator to determine what is in the child’s best interests.
Move away requests also run the risk of the parent making the request getting their request denied. The court cannot prevent the parent from moving, only the child. This means that there is a risk that the Court can award primary custody of the child to the non-moving parent.
The weight given to each of the factors considered by the Court are different in every case. For example, the Court may find that a parent’s move due to a new job that would allow the parent to increase her income, support her child, and move where extended family may be available to assist served the child’s best interests and grant the move. On the other hand, the Court may also find that a parent’s move would mean that the relationship with the non-moving parent would be drastically curtailed and is not in the best interests of the child when the child is significantly attached to that parent. A parent on either side of these situations should consult with counsel before making a final determination as to whether to proceed.