Is it Possible to Relocate with Children after a Divorce?
Going through a divorce is a difficult and complicated time for a family. In some cases, relocating to another city or state may be necessary. However, questions and uncertainty may surround custodial parents’ rights to relocate with their children following a divorce.
At Military Law Group, my team and I help individuals and their loved ones navigate complex legal issues in Tulsa and the rest of Oklahoma. If you live in Tulsa or throughout the metro area, including Rogers County, Creek County, and the Creek and Cherokee Nations, set up a consultation with me as soon as possible.
Relocation after an Oklahoma Divorce
People sometimes feel the need to physically distance themselves and their ex-spouse following a divorce. However, relocating with your child requires careful consideration.
In short, the custodial parent has the right to relocate with their children. However, certain conditions must be met:
Relocating with a child is permissible as long as the child’s welfare is not at risk.
The custodial parent can relocate with their minor children, without court approval, within 75 miles of their current residence and for a period of fewer than 60 days.
Under these circumstances, the custodial parent can freely travel with their minor children, especially on vacations and family trips. However, the custody agreement may state that the custodial parent notifies the non-custodial party.
Notification of Plans to Relocate in Oklahoma
The custodial parent must notify the non-custodial party of plans to relocate under the following circumstances:
If the custodial parent intends to move farther away (including out of state) and for a period greater than 60 days, the custodial parent must notify the non-custodial parent at their last known address.
The custodial parent must notify the non-custodial parent with at least 60 days’ notice. However, in cases when notifying in advance is not possible, the custodial parent must send the notification with at least 10 days’ notice.
The notification must contain the following elements: new address, telephone number, date of the planned move, brief explanation of reasons for relocation, and a proposed visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.
The non-custodial parent has 30 days to object to the relocation. Otherwise, the court may approve the relocation without a hearing.
If the non-custodial parent has an objection to the relocation, they must justify their objections based on the child’s best interest. The court will then determine if the relocation is appropriate or deny the relocation request.
Please note that the court can deny the relocation request if the relocation notice does not meet all requirements. As such, it is always a good idea to consult a professional family law attorney to ensure you have considered all options.
Factors the Court Will Consider in Granting Relocation Requests
Here are the factors that the court will consider when granting relocation requests:
The child’s relationship with both parents and other people in their lives
The child’s age and developmental stage
The feasibility of maintaining a relationship with the non-custodial parent, including visitation rights
A pattern of detrimental behavior by the custodial parent
How the relocation enhances the child’s quality of life
Objections by other parties, including the non-custodial parent
Any other factors that influence the child’s welfare
Custodial parents must ensure they comply with all notification requirements. Otherwise, the non-custodial parent may have grounds to object to the relocation. Ultimately, the court may reject the relocation request.
Visitation Rights for the Non-Custodial Parent
The non-custodial parent’s visitation rights may be seriously affected by a relocation. Consequently, the non-custodial parent can object to relocation on these grounds. Specifically, objections may be based on the following points:
The non-custodial parent’s relationship to the child being significantly affected by the relocation
The non-custodial parent’s inability to see the child following the relocation, especially if it is out of state
The custodial parent’s failure to notify the non-custodial parent about the relocation.
The potential rupture of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent’s family (i.e., grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins)
Both parents can request to amend the custody agreement to include the relocation. However, the court must approve the amendment to the custody agreement considering the child’s best interest. Keep in mind that the court may deny a relocation request if it goes against the child’s best interest. It is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney before submitting a relocation request. A skilled divorce attorney can help parents navigate the complex waters of the legal system.
Getting the Right Legal Counsel in Oklahoma
At Military Law Group, I believe in protecting families. I especially value the sacrifice military families make to defend this country. Ultimately, my team and I strive to provide professional service and compassionate representation for you and those you love. Call today to speak with an experienced family attorney.