Can I Move Out-of-State With My Child?

If you are considering a divorce, are in the middle of a divorce, or have already divorced your ex-spouse, you may wonder whether or not you have the legal right to move out-of-state with your child. You have the legal right to move anywhere you want in the United States, however, if you have minor children, there are certain legalities you will need to consider before making this decision, as it is not guaranteed you will be legally allowed to take them with you under child custody laws. Consider the following requirements that pertain to all three situations — before a divorce, during a divorce, and after a divorce. If you are making the decision to relocate out of state with your minor child, these are decisions you will need to consider.

Still Married and Filing for Divorce

If you are still married and neither parent has officially filed for divorce, but it appears that divorce paperwork will be filed soon, you still have the legal right to move out of state. However, even if you make the decision to move out of state, you can not simply take your child away from the other parent. In certain circumstances, it could actually be considered kidnapping if you fail to inform the other parent of where the child is located for a considerable period of time. While you can move out of state immediately prior to a divorce, you will still have to find a way to grant the other parent access to the child, as they have just as much of a legal right to spend time with the child as you do. Additionally, if you make the decision to move out-of-state right before filing for divorce, the court may look unfavorably on the move as it would appear that you may have done this as a direct attempt to avoid allowing the other spouse an opportunity to co-parent together in the best interest of the child.

If you find yourself in the circumstance that your spouse has taken your children to another state and moved there, you have the legal right to file for temporary orders even before the divorce paperwork is filed. You have the legal right to see and spend time with your children just as your spouse does. Courts have a tendency to disapprove strongly of one parent simply relocating a great distance away from another parent, as it typically is not in the best interest of the child.

During a Divorce

As soon as one parent makes the decision to file for divorce, a preliminary injunction might go into effect. A preliminary injunction is an order of the court that both parents must comply with until the divorce is completely finalized. One of the possible provisions of a preliminary injunction is that both parents do not have the legal right to take a child out of the state. If you make the decision to do so, you will actually be held in contempt of court and face legal consequences for your actions. The courts created these types of preliminary injunctions for the specific reason to prevent parents from moving out of state with a child. It is important to note that a parent has the right to still take a child out of state for a vacation as long as they receive a written agreement from the other parent. Additionally, a parent may still have the legal right to request to move out of state after the divorce process and work on creating a parenting plan that would reflect that substantial change in circumstance.

After a Divorce

If two people have divorced with minor children, they have developed a final order for a parenting plan. This parenting plan is not just a guideline, but a legal document that both parents must follow. If a parent makes the decision to move out of state after a divorce and parenting plan have been established, they may not have the legal right to take their child with them. In these cases, if the other parent does not agree to a different parenting plan that would include moving the child between both houses between states, one parent may be awarded full-time custody of the child.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you are entertaining the idea of moving out of state either before, during, or after your divorce, it may have a great impact on your child custody arrangements. Consider visiting with an experienced divorce lawyer at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina at 704.370.2828. We can help you understand if you have the legal right to modify a custody plan to your benefit. Contact us by phone or online today for your free consultation.