While divorce law on moving kids out of state varies from state to state, most states do not allow a parent to move the kids out of the jurisdiction of the court, except for certain circumstances. These circumstances vary widely, as they are in the court's discretion, but always involve getting permission from the court or the other parent.
Permission from the Other Parent
If only one parent is moving out of state and wants to take the minor children, that parent must obtain permission from the other parent. If the other parent does not grant permission, the parent who wishes to move petitions the court. If both parents wish to move to the same location, no additional permission is needed, unless the parties desire to amend the settlement agreement or the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
Best Interests of the Minor Children
If a parent requests that she be allowed to move out of state with the minor children, but the other parent does not agree, she can petition the court to allow her to move the children out of state. The court will look to the best interests of the minor children. Two common reasons that the courts consider are whether the children have family and friends in the new location and whether the difference in income for the moving parent is significant enough, so the children have more.
Amending the Settlement Agreement
The settlement agreement should always be amended. The settlement agreement possibly states that the parties are not to move out of a certain area. This should be amended to state that one or both parties are moving to a new area. If one party moves, the visitation schedule will change from the standard visitation to long-distance visitation. This should also be amended in the event that disagreement arises at a later time.
If both parties are moving, the settlement agreement should also be amended in that child support may change because of an increase in salary or because of a loss in income due to the move.
Amending the Final Judgment
If the court ordered the parties to stay in one area in a contested divorce, the terms are stated in the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. This is a court order and may only be amended by a subsequent court order. The parties may file a stipulation to amend final judgment of dissolution of marriage. The stipulation outlines the parties' new circumstances and has to be ratified by the court. Should a disagreement occur in the future, the court will refer to the final judgment of dissolution of marriage and the stipulation that was entered later.
The minor children are still entitled to spend an equal amount of time with the parent that chooses not to move, so a long-distance visitation schedule must be created. A long-distance visitation schedule provides extra time during spring break, summer vacation and extended holidays for the non-custodial parent.
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