“I have custody (or joint custody) can he/she stop me from moving?”
In the field of custody law, we are often faced with this question
The answer like so many things is “it depends.” In law school, every time a member of the class asks the professor a question, his answer is invariably “it depends.” This is a frustrating answer for law
students wanting a straight answer. After years of legal practice, I have subsequently learned that “it depends,” is a straight answer!
The courts cannot “keep” you from moving, because it would be unconstitutional.
What the courts can do is keep you from moving with the child, or require that you return with the child after the fact.
This is predicated on the notion that if you move you are probably disturbing the status quo. What? You say you have no “status quo?
Well, you do. For custody purposes, the status quo is an amount of time the child spends with the other parent. It can range from chaos; such as playing it by ear, day in, day out, to working under a court
order that spells out the days and times in a highly regimented fashion.
When you disturb that status quo, the court will want to know why.
- Do you have to move for employment?
- Are you moving to be closer with your extended family at a difficult time either emotionally or financially?
- Did you meet the man or woman of your dreams on the internet and you just have to move for true love?
The answer will be a factor for the court to consider. If your disturbance to the status quo makes following a court order impracticable or impossible, you need to give the court as much advance notice as possible. If you wait until the last minute to advise your ex of your moving, you better have found out at the last minute yourself. If you have joint legal custody or shared physical custody, that ups the legal ante.
Typically, a move is not the end of the world for you or your ex. If you move within fifty miles and you agree to bear the burden this transportation takes upon the status quo, it probably won’t effect
your custody. If you move somewhere so far that the visitation arrangement must change, you need to come to the court with a plan.
Custody court is a place where losers don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. If you move so far that transportation is only possible monthly or quarterly, be prepared to have one parent take the school year and one parent take the summer. The court is even likely to do something as simple as adding up the days each parent would have had before the move and putting a plan in place that works out to roughly the same.
What you really need to do if you are a single or divorcing parent, planning a move, is consult a custody lawyer or research carefully.
Even which state or foreign country will decide any dispute about your move is a huge legal question. Don’t listen to what your friend said or what you found on the internet. This question can potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars, months and months of court, or even possibly get you in the slammer.
If you must move, try to talk about it with the other parent and make arrangements that will make the best of a potentially bad situation. Any Judge will tell you that “if a decision makes both parents feel like they did not get everything they wanted…. it was probably the best decision that could have been made.”
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The Custody Place
19 NORTH COURT STREET
FREDERICK MARYLAND 21701