Custody Laws When One Parent Moves Out of State

By Mike Broemmel

Updated June 13, 2017

Children communicate with online

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A recurring issue in family courts in the United States is the matter of a custodial parent that desires to move out of state with the child, according to the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. The statutes on this subject slightly vary from state to state. The general parameters concerning custody issues when a parent wants to move out of state with a minor child largely are the same in all U.S. jurisdictions.

Agreement of Parents

Custody laws in all U.S. jurisdictions permit parents to agree to moving a minor child out of state with one of the parents, according to "Child Custody A to Z" by Guy J. White. Although the parents reach agreement in this regard, and put the terms in writing, the court that issued the initial custody order must review the proposed relocation. Because both parents agree to the proposed move, the court is likely to approve the move. The only instance in which a court does not need to be consulted is if the original custody includes a provision permitting the parents to agree to one of the parties moving out of state with the child.

Also Read: Rights for a Divorced Father When the Mother Wants to Move Away

Change of Custody

If the current custodial parent desires to move out of state with the child and the other parent opposes the proposal, a hearing is held before the court that issues the initial child custody order. Provided the non-custodial parent is fit to assume custody of the child, the provisions of the law likely will lead to a potential change of custody. In other words, the parent who desires to leave the state is left with the alternative of remaining in the jurisdiction and maintaining custody or moving and losing that right.

Visitation or Parenting Time

When the custodial parent moves out of state with a child, applicable laws alter the types of rights the non-custodial parent possesses in regard to visitation or parenting time. Depending on the distance of the move, the non-custodial parent likely gains extended visitations or parenting time with the child. Additionally, non-traditional schemes are adopted to ensure that the non-custodial parent is able to maintain and develop a meaningful relationship with the child. For example, as part of the agreement or order permitting the custodial parent to depart the state, the non-custodial parent gains scheduled cyber visitation. In other words, specific times are set aside for the parent and child to use the resources of the Internet to make contact with each other.