The aftermath of a divorce has the potential to be messy, especially when child custody is involved. Sometimes a parent must move out of the area, be it for work or their own personal choice; if a child custody agreement is in place, this can cause issues. How will the agreement be fulfilled if one parent is no longer in the same city? Is the parent even allowed to leave the area with their children?
The answer to these questions can vary depending on the state in which the agreement was first made. The state of Missouri, for instance, has specific laws pertaining to a permanent change of residence with a child. If the move is for less than 90 days, it’s only considered a temporary change of residence and the laws of relocation do not apply.
If the move will last for more than 90 days, the relocating parent must provide:
- written notice of intent to move;
- notice 60 days before the proposed move, delivered directly to the non-moving parent;
- the new address or, if there is no address yet, the new state or city;
- the new home phone number (if there is one);
- a brief statement explaining the reasons for moving with the child; and
- a proposed new custody and visitation schedule.
If any of the above information changes before or after the move, the moving parent must notify the non-moving parent as soon as possible. If the moving parent is doing so because the non-moving parent is a danger to either themselves or their child, they can provide the court with the notice of intent to move. The court will then take all necessary measures to keep the moving parent and child safe.
If the Non-Moving Parent Doesn’t Give Consent
If both parties agree to the move, they must submit a written and signed term of agreement to the court. If the non-moving parent or guardian doesn’t consent or agree to the intent to move, things can get complicated. The non-moving parent can file a motion to ask the judge to block the move. To which the moving parent can counter with an affidavit explaining why they think the move is necessary.
Never move without first gaining consent from the non-moving parent or a judge. If you do, the judge could order you to return your child and you could be charged with parental kidnapping.
What’s Best for the Child
A Missouri family court will also try to rule in favor of what will be best for the child. If the moving parent wishes to take their child with them, they must prove that doing so would be in the child’s best interests.
To decide what’s best for the child, the family court will consider:
- if the move is being made with good intentions or if it is being done to interfere with the non-moving parent’s custody and/or visitation;
- if the moving parent has shown compliance with notice requirements;
- both parents’ wishes;
- the custody and visitation plans submitted by the parents;
- the child’s need for a continuing relationship with both parents;
- the willingness of both parents to actively perform parental responsibilities;
- the interaction and relationship with each person who plays a major role in the child’s life;
- how well the child can adjust to school and the community;
- the mental and physical health of all parties involved in the case;
- the existence of a history of abuse; and
- the child’s wishes, if old enough to express rational opinions
A court case with so many factors can be difficult to navigate on your own. It’s advised that you seek the guidance of a family law attorney with parental relocation experience. The right lawyer can help you prepare the proper notices and provide a strong case for you in family court.
Contact Smith Law Offices, LLC
If you are currently looking to relocate to a new city or state and would like to bring your child, get in touch with Smith Law Offices, LLC. Our firm has been serving the St. Charles area for more than 50 years. We have extensive experience with parental relocation cases and we are committed to helping our clients reach favorable outcomes.
Contact us online or give us a call at (636) 400-1177 for a legal consultation.