It is very common for things to change in the years following a divorce. Sometimes, things can change a lot for a divorced couple and their children. For example, a stay-at-home mother goes back to college after a divorce and embarks on a career in the medical field. Five years after the divorce, she meets an anesthesiologist at a medical conference out-of-state and before she knows it, the pair is engaged.
Now, the mother, who lives in San Fernando, wants to move to Michigan to start a new life with her fiancé. Can she relocate to Michigan, even though her child’s father is putting up a fight? Assuming she does not have sole custody of her child, she would need to ask the court for permission to allow the move. Continue reading as we explain move-away cases.
Courts Understand Change is Inevitable
The family courts are well-aware that following a divorce, change is inevitable. A court may allow a parent to move away with the children if the court believes such a move is in the children’s best interests, even if the non-custodial parent is against the move. Move-away actions are handled on a case-by-case basis and courts always must put the most weight on the child’s best interests.
If a relocation would improve the child’s education, quality of life, and economic circumstances, the court may decide to approve the petition. It all depends on the facts of the case. When deciding to allow a move-away petition, the court will consider a variety of factors, such as:
- The reason for the move.
- The age of the child.
- What the child desires.
- Each parent’s economic circumstances.
- The child’s relationship with each parent.
- The child’s ties to extended family, friends, school, and the community.
- The actual custody and visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent as opposed to what it says in the Parenting Plan.
- How the child would benefit from the move.
Sometimes after reviewing the facts of the case, the court decides to permit the move. On other occasions, a change in custody may be in order. For example, suppose a mother wants to relocate to another state because she thinks California is “too big” and “too busy,” but she does not have any family or job in the state she proposes to move to. Her 16-year-old son does not want to leave high school in his junior year, nor does he want to leave his friends or his father.
In this situation, it may make more sense for the son to move in with his father, while his mother relocates to another state. In other cases, a parallel move may be the best solution. For example, suppose a mother of three wanted to move back home to Texas so she could be close to her large family. With more affordable housing and an excellent job offer on the table, the odds may be in her favor. In this case, her ex-husband may want to move to Texas too, so he can be close to his three children.