Relocating with your child is not as simple as you may hope. You may have to obtain permission from the other parent and possibly the court for such relocation. These types of cases can be very difficult and are fact specific. However, there are some guiding principles to consider when faced with this situation.
There is a difference between a new lawsuit versus an existing court order addressing child custody. Without getting into the complexities of it, the relocation analysis remains fairly similar between the two scenarios.
Moving Must be In the Best Interest of the Child
If the issue of child custody reaches a court, the judge will make a decision based on the best interest of the child. There are several factors considered by judges in determining the best interest of a child.
Factors to Consider
Based on recent North Carolina custody cases, a court will consider the following factors to determine the best interest of the child:
- Advantages of the relocation in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the child;
- Motives of the custodial parent in seeking the move;
- Likelihood that the custodial parent will comply with visitation orders after he or she has left North Carolina;
- Integrity of the non-custodial parent in resisting the relocation; and
- Likelihood that a realistic visitation schedule can be arranged that will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent.
How might you show that moving is in the Best Interest of the Child
Proving that moving is in the best interest of the child will depend on the factors listed above. When possible, you should present evidence that shows how moving will benefit the child and outweigh the costs of relocating.
Show evidence detailing the mental and physical well-being of each parent, each parent’s caretaking capacities, the role of each parent thus far in taking care of the child, the child’s relationship to each parent, and the time that each parent has available to spend with the child.
You can also try to show the better environment you can create for the child by moving away, such as moving to be closer to extended family or better schools.
Other factors to show that moving will be in the best interest of your child include:
- prior bad acts of the other parent (such as abuse and neglect);
- drug or alcohol problems;
- religious factors;
- the willingness of each parent to keep the other parent involved in the child’s life and to facilitate the other parent’s access to the child; and
- the other parent’s adult relationships including non-marital sexual relations.
Relocation is likely an all or nothing situation; either the child is moving with you or you might be moving on your own. If you believe that you may have to relocate, seeking the advice of an experienced relocation attorney is a good first step.