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The Basics of Pursuing a Child Custody Move-Away Case

Parents who have been through a child custody dispute know that the process is not easy; however, they generally understand that they may ultimately find themselves in another contentious custody situation if they ever need to move away with their children.

American family courts generally recognize that significant moves (especially those that cross state lines) can impact not only the best interests of the child but also the parenting time of both parents involved. As a result, move-away cases are sometimes frowned upon when the parent seeking to move is not doing so for valid reasons that will ultimately benefit the child or children in question.

On the other hand, the parent submitting the child custody move-away petition could have very valid reasons for wanting to move. It is important that anyone submitting a petition to move a child a significant distance from his or her other parent understands the factors that a judge is going to consider before making a decision. Similarly, anyone looking to oppose such a petition should be aware of the basics of this process as well.

Reasons for the Move

In rare cases, parents choose to move away with their kids simply to spite their children's other parent. It is not a common occurrence, but it does happen. A good attorney will help a judge to view that parent's motivations clearly.

In most move-away cases, a child's parent either has solid reasons for wanting to move or has at least understandable reasons for this change. Examples of good reasons to move include moving to be closer to family who can help with child care, to be closer to elderly relatives who might be in poor health, or to be placed in a position for a better paying job. Simply because one's reasons for moving are solid does not mean that a petition to move will be granted, however. Every case is unique. And in general, what a judge will be most concerned about is whether the move will ultimately benefit or harm the child ultimately. As a result, it is important to think about one's reasons for moving or opposing a move in regards to how that move will impact a child's best interests.

Distance and the Relationship between the Parents Matter

Judges are generally more likely to approve of a move if that change in location does not place a child unreasonably far from his or her other parent. If the move is only across town, the petition has a better chance of succeeding. If the move is across the country, the ability of the other parent to visit might be significantly impacted. This challenge may render a petition less likely to succeed.

In addition, if the relationship between the parents has been good so far, the petition is more likely to be granted. Parents who have remained on good terms and have worked to facilitate visitation of the other parent are more likely to win the favor of the judge. If a co-parenting relationship is contentious, a judge may be skeptical of whether the parents in question can make their relationship work long-distance.

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