Regardless of your custody arrangement, adjusting visitation for relocation is a complex issue. While many child custody lawyers recommend defining these issues in the original custody agreement, if you find yourself in a situation where you no longer agree with the relocation terms or if relocation terms have never been set, you should consult with a lawyer who specializes in relocation to ensure your voice is heard. A few things a relocation lawyer can help you do include:
- Legally protect your rights to visitation
- Create an agreement for shared custody across state lines
- Prevent another parent from relocating your child
- Adjust the current terms of your relocation agreement
What makes relocation law so tough?
Custody agreements, especially as a result of divorce, are notoriously difficult to navigate. It’s very hard to predict with accuracy how either parent’s life will change. Sometimes, a parent or a new spouse experiences a job loss or relocation that drastically changes their lifestyle. What was once a 10-minute drive and awkward small talk for pick-up and drop-off now has the potential to become an elaborately scheduled and meticulously planned arrangement for air travel, time off, and other considerations.
How are legal relocation decisions made?
There are many factors that contribute to relocation agreements. Among the factors are:
- Reasons for relocation
- The child’s or children’s relationship with each parent
- How a move may impact the child or children
- If a long distance relationship with the other parent is sustainable
Reasons for relocation
Often, the reason a parent wants to relocate isn’t frivolous. Whether it’s for a job opportunity, a spouse’s job opportunity, a desire to be closer to other family members, or another reason, the court will carefully consider the validity of the reason.
The child’s or children’s relationship with each parent
If, for example, the child is estranged from one parent, the court will consider their limited relationship when deciding on relocation. If both parents are equally involved, the decision to create distance between one parent will have many considerations.
How a move may impact the child or children
Is the move going to provide the child or children with a better quality of life? If so, that may be a compelling reason for the court to side with relocation. Similarly, if the standard of living would be better if the child or children stay in their current location, that will be considered, too.
If a long distance relationship with the other parent is sustainable
Let’s face it: maintaining regular visitation of your child from far off lands and distant places is a financial burden. Unless you are particularly wealthy, flying your kid from coast to coast may not be sustainable. The court will consider each parent’s resources and how long-distance visitation would work. For some parents, an entirely new custody agreement or visitation agreement needs to be made. This may involve spending less time with your child over the holidays and school vacations, or vice versa.
A relocation lawyer can help you with more than filing and understanding the law, they can provide you with best practices and scenarios they’ve seen work well for other clients. Your relocation lawyer will help you navigate this difficult, stressful new stage for the best outcome. You want the best shot at the best relationship with your child or children, and you have a rights when it comes to their care and living arrangements.