Tough economic times often require parents to relocate their current residence for employment or for less expensive housing. When the relocating parent is the custodial parent following a divorce, there are a number of issues that must be addressed before parent and child make the move.
Missouri state law regarding child custody requires that the move be in good faith and in the best interests of the child. The custodial parent is also required to give notice to the non-custodial parent 60 days prior to the planned move. The best interests of the child might include enhanced educational opportunities, proximity to family who can assist with child care or additional support, or employment that allows the custodial parent to support the children.
Visitation with the other parent will be a concern if the move means children will not be able to visit in accordance with the current plan or court order. Thus the custodial parent will need to address how the children will visit the other parent to make up the lost time. For example, the children might spend extended time over holiday and summer breaks from school instead of the current mid-week evening visits. In addition, the custodial parent may be able to show how this particular arrangement would benefit the children since the visits will not need to focus on homework or other activities.
In Missouri, notice to the non-custodial parent must be sent by certified mail and must include a number of things (unless the court orders otherwise):
- The new address and phone number
- The date of the proposed move
- The reason for the move
- And a proposal regarding the change in visitation.
In turn, the non-custodial parent has 30 days to file a motion to prevent the relocation. If no motion is filed, the custodial parent can proceed with the move. But if the motion is filed, the court will then decide whether the move is allowed.
While the non-custodial parent will be held to the 30 day time line for an objection, the custodial parent is also required to comply with all aspects of notification regarding the relocation. In 2011, the Southern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a request to relocate when the custodial parent did not provide all the required information about the relocation. Thus any relocation notice to the other parent must include the specified items, or the custodial parent runs the risk of the court denying the request.
Source: Huffington Post, "How Do I Relocate After Obtaining Custody of My Children?" Eyal Talassazan, July 2, 2012