Relocation of Children After Divorce

Legal Help with Custody and Parenting Plans for Parents Relocating a Child

  At the time of divorce, when parenting plans are being negotiated and finalized, most parents are working hard to ensure that the day-to-day hand-off of children to parents goes smoothly. The parent who leaves the home will often look for a home nearby or within an easy drive.

As the years go by, situations change. A new job, a remarriage, or changing family needs may make relocation necessary. But relocating a child is not a simple matter. In order to relocate a child for whom there is a parenting plan in place, you will have to go back to a family court judge for approval. And if the other parent disagrees with your plan to relocate the child, don't expect the judge to rubber-stamp your request. The parent seeking to move the child will have to prove that such a move is in the child's best interest – not just in the parent's self interest.

In some cases, a child relocation request can trigger a petition for a change of custody by the parent who does not want the child to move.

Protecting Your Most Important Relationship

We are Fall River child custody lawyer Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr. and Lauri A. Sanford. We have been helping parents resolve legal issues involving child custody and parenting time for more than 34 years. We have extensive experience negotiating shared parenting time, as well as child relocation. We can help you bring an effective case before the Massachusetts Family Court judge to allow or deny a petition to remove a child from the area.

Proving Best Interest of the Child

Proving that a move is in the best interest of a child requires evidence that there will be multiple benefits, such as:

  • Improvement in family finances
  • Stability of family relationships
  • Closeness to extended family
  • Quality of schools
  • Safety of the community
  • Access to social, cultural and educational opportunities

At our free initial consultation, we can explain what is involved building a strong case for relocation and what factors the judge will consider.

The parent seeking to relocate a child must also have to show how he or she will facilitate the child's continuing relationship with the other parent. This may mean paying for the child to travel, or proposing extended visits in place of weekly parent-child time.

Fighting Relocation of Your Child

The parent who wants to move a child must provide the family court judge with considerable proof that the move is in the child's best interest and that there is a real advantage to relocation for both the parent and child. The judge must then weigh the interests and the rights of the child and the parent who is staying in Massachusetts to maintain their existing and familiar relationships with the rights of the parent who wants to move in order to make a better life for him or herself.

Judges do allow many parents to relocate. This does not mean you can't fight a relocation request and win. You, too, will have to build a strong case and you will need an effective trial attorney. The same factors that influence a decision to approve relocation can be used to fight relocation. Damage to the parent-child relationship is one of the most significant factors in your favor.

  • Do you have a strong bond with your child? How is this demonstrated? Are you an active participant in his or her school and extra-curricular activities? Is your child nurtured by a caring extended family in your community? Does your child have a strong church community?
  • Is the other parent asking to relocate in order to create a barrier between you and your child? Do you have reason to believe he or she is doing this in retaliation against you?
  • Will a long-distance move create a significant financial hardship for you, perhaps preventing you from seeing your child? If that does not prevent the relocation, it should result in a financial offset of your costs, and maybe your support obligations for your child.

In order to fight a relocation petition, you may need to seek a modification in the parenting plan in which the child resides with you most of the time. Demonstrating your willingness and preparedness for such a change will be essential.

Contact the Fall River Law Firm of Driscoll Sanford Family Law

You can have confidence that when you work with us, your child custody case will be handled in a cost-effective and professional manner. Call (508) 672-8718 or email the Driscoll Sanford Family Law. We offer payment plans and flat-fee pricing for some legal matters.

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