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Can a co-parent move after a divorce?
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Can a co-parent move after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Divorce

In the U.S., people move all the time. Some people move for work, others just want to experience something new and others move after they get married to live with a spouse. Whether adults are single, or if they are a married couple, there aren’t really any restrictions on their freedom to move and they’re free to do whatever they wish. But what if they are co-parents? Say that a couple married, had two children and then got divorced. They are now co-parenting and they both have custody time with their children. One person decides that they want to move.

This could create a problem. Their custody schedule, as it stands, isn’t going to work if the other person moves to another state. As a result, they may need to seek a modification of their child custody order, and – if the other parent doesn’t agree to proposed modification terms – they will need to explain to the court why they want to move and justify their desire based on the “best interests of the child” standard.

Moving in good faith

A parent may explain to the court that they are going to attend college, take a job they’ve been offered, move closer to extended family members or look for a better standard of living that fits their budget. These are just a few examples of what are known as “good faith reasons” to move. They all show that the parent’s life would be improved in some way, as would the life of the children, if they moved. This shows the court that the parent does have a legitimate reason to move.

The issue courts sometimes run into is that one person will feel angry with their former spouse and may decide to move out of spite. If a parent wants to move to separate their co-parent from their children, then the modification will not be approved. These good faith reasons show that spite is not the motivation, and then the court can consider what a new custody solution may look like.

Working through the legal process

Parents shouldn’t move or attempt to modify a custody agreement on their own. Whether they’re able to reach mutually-agreeable terms or they need to litigate their situation, the matter will need to be formalized by the court. Moving before a matter is formalized could leave a parent in violation of their standing orders. Parents with questions about move-based custody modifications may benefit from seeking legal guidance accordingly.