Can a Divorced Mother Move out of the State of Indiana With Her Children?

By Cindy Chung

The terms of an Indiana court order for custody often affect whether a mother can move away from the state with her children. The right to relocate may also depend on the other parent's custodial rights and any objections he has to the move. A mother who plans to relocate should understand the relevant laws and procedures required in Indiana. She might benefit from consulting with an Indiana lawyer who handles custody issues, especially if the other parent opposes the relocation.

Current Custody Order

A couple's divorce order from an Indiana state court generally includes information about child custody. A mother should be able to tell from her divorce order whether she is a custodial or non-custodial parent: A custodial parent may request permission to relocate with the child, whereas a non-custodial parent generally cannot unless the court significantly modifies the existing order.

Notice of Relocation

Indiana state laws require written notice of the relocation if a custodial parent would like to move from Indiana to another state with her children. A mother planning to move must file the notice with the court that issued the divorce order establishing the current custody arrangement. If the court order has changed since the parents' divorce, the parent should file the notice with the court that issued the current order. In general, a mother must file the notice of relocation at least 90 days before the planned move. After receiving the notice, either parent or the court may request a date for a hearing to review the issue of relocation.

Burden of Proof for Relocation

When deciding whether to allow parental relocation outside of Indiana, a court must consider whether the mother's request meets the standards set by state law. In general, the mother requesting to move has the burden of proof if the other parent opposes the relocation. To meet the burden of proof, the mother must explain a legitimate reason for the move and show that the move will be made in good faith. If the mother meets the burden of proof required by law, the opposing parent must show that the move does not reflect the child's best interests. The court may also consider several factors, including the distance between the current and proposed homes, the effect of the move on the non-custodial parent's visitation rights and the impact on the non-custodial parent's relationship with the children.

Temporary Orders

If a mother has a pending court action to get permission for a move away from Indiana, either parent may request a temporary order from the court. The custodial parent might request temporary permission to move from Indiana, while the non-custodial parent might ask the court to restrain the mother from moving before the court makes a permanent decision. If the court finds that a mother has moved without providing notice or establishing a custody agreement, the court may require the child's return to the state.