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Thinking About Relocating Your Family After a Divorce? Here Are Several Considerations

Attorneys at Law Timlin & Rye May 2, 2015

Are you the primary caregiver or is it spread out 50/50?

Are you thinking about the true needs of your child?

What is the reason for the move?

Have you reviewed the legal barriers?

Families are more mobile now than in years past and the reasons for moving vary. Some reasons include work opportunities, closeness to extended family, better communities or schools, and lower cost of living.

Moving, however, can become exponentially more complicated for divorced families with parenting plans.  Moving in divorce terms is called “relocation” and it can be a difficult process. Most divorce parenting plans include a clause that one party may not move out of state with the child and/or may not move within a state such that it creates a substantial geographical change.

If you move from Denver to Grand Junction, and your ex lives in Denver, this would substantially change everyone’s ability to comply with your current parenting plan.

Moving is not impossible, but there are some personal decisions you need to make as well as some legal hurdles you need to overcome before committing to a move.

  • If you are the primary caretaker of the child, or if you have 50-50 parenting time, you must decide whether you want the child to go with you when you move.

  • Think about your child and their individual needs, including school, friends, involvement in sports/community, anything your child will lose by moving.

  • What does the community in this new location have to offer?

  • Is it more important for your child to stay with you as the primary caretaker or more important for your child to stay in the community they currently reside.

Change is very difficult for kids, and you must carefully consider whether this move is in your child’s best interests. If you have thought this over and have concluded it is best for your child to move with you, it is time to start to overcome the legal barriers.

The law says that a parent may seek to relocate with the child to a residence that “substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other party.” What this means is that you are moving far enough away that the current parenting time is going to be substantially changed because of distance.

There are 18 factors that the court must consider in its decision.They are:

  1. whether a party has committed domestic violence,

  2. the reasons why you wish to relocate with your child,

  3. the reasons why the other party does not want you and the child to relocate,

  4. the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child since the previous parenting order;

  5. the educational opportunities at the existing and new locations,

  6. the presence or absence of extended family at the existing and new locations,

  7. the advantages of the child remaining with his/her primary caregiver,

  8. whether the court will be able to make a reasonable parenting schedule if the move is allowed,

  9. any other information that bears on the child’s best interests,

  10. the wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time,

  11. the wishes of the child if the child is mature enough to express an opinion;

  12. the interaction and relationship of the child with his/her parents and other significant people in the child’s life,

  13. the child’s adjustment to his/her home, school, and community,

  14. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved,

  15. the ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent,

  16. whether the past pattern of involvement between the parties reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support,

  17. physical proximity of the parents as relates practically to parenting time logistics, and

  18. the ability of each parent to put the child’s needs ahead of his/her own needs.

Each of these factors in this long list is taken very seriously by courts since the result is taking a child away from one parent. The court will consider each and every factor listed.

Relocation after a divorce should be approached with caution since the considerations are numerous and have an impact on your family. If you are facing this situation, contact our office for a consultation about how to move forward.

If you have any questions or concerns about your situation please contact us.  Call or Email Us.

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