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When Relocation Gets Complex

A job opportunity, education, military duty, marriage, and a change of scenery are among the reasons why people relocate. However, when children from a previous relationship are involved, it's not a simple matter. A move can have a significant impact on the child as well as the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent.

A custodial parent needs to be familiar with possible travel restrictions in their divorce or child-custody agreement, and with state law, before contemplating a relocation. Although laws differ form state to state, frequently, the custodial parent must notify the noncustodial parent of their intention to move. It is incumbent upon the noncustodial parent to file an objection with the court if they are not on board with the relocation. They may also seek a change in the custody agreement.

It's a very serious matter when a custodial parent does not abide by the agreements stipulated in the divorce/child-custody decree or state law concerning a move. They risk being found in contempt of court, which means fines and possible relocation to a jail cell instead.

Generally, courts will consider how well the parents have lived up the the existing parenting plan, why the custodial parent wishes to relocate, and the ramifications for the child and noncustodial parent. Other factors, such as where extended family reside and educational opportunities for the child at the proposed new location may come into play as well

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