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Elements of relocating a child in joint custody

Being a parent who shares joint custody can be difficult in many ways, especially when unforeseen circumstances cause one parent to desire to make a significant geographical move with the child. This can result in even further strained relations between the parents, and force the child into a long distance relationship with one parent against his or her wishes. Child custody courts are often left to determine whether the move will be allowed in the acceptable interest of the child. Courts will take into account notice, presumption and consent to decide whether or not to approve the relocation.

In most cases, relocating a child can be fairly straightforward if there is an agreement between the parents stating that the relocation is acceptable. Such an agreement is often negotiated during the original proceedings to determine custody arrangements and will generally feature terms of relocation. Relocation terms will most commonly include a visitation plan for the affected parent, as well as the expressed consent of both parents.

Depending on the state, a parent wishing to relocate a child in joint custody will be required to give the non-custodial parent notice of the intended move for a predetermined period of time. This notice may, for instance, be required 30 to 90 days prior to the move, in which time the non-custodial parent may have to give his or her written consent. In some cases, non-custodial parents will have this period of time to file an official objection if they wish to stop the relocation.

A proposed relocation may run into trouble if it is being made over too great a distance. Some states may be less inclined to approve the relocation, for example, if it is more than 100 miles from the original residence of the custodial parent, even if it is within the same state.

It can seem overwhelming to deal with all the ins and outs of properly addressing child custody requirements. The guidance of a qualified child custody lawyer can help ensure that all parties' rights are protected while the best interests of the child in question remain at the center of the decision making.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Child Custody Relocation Laws," accessed Aug. 26, 2016

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