Can you relocate with your children after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2023 | family law |

Divorce can be complex and emotional, especially when children are involved. You and your ex-spouse may need to formulate a plan that allows both parents to spend quality time with their children.

North Carolina doesn’t require a court-ordered custody arrangement if the parents can agree on a parenting plan, however without a formal agreement many areas of disagreement can arise, which ultimately can lead to Court action. For example, what happens to that custody arrangement if one parent decides to leave the area with the children?

The other parent may object

If both parents agree to allow relocation with their children, they can enter into an agreement that outlines how visitation rights will be handled and any other details. If you are the parent relocating and the other parent agrees, we strongly recommend you consult an experienced family law attorney to assist you in preparing an agreement allowing the relocation.

On the other hand, if one parent objects to relocation with their child or children, they can file an objection with the court. The court will then review all relevant evidence and decide based on what is in the children’s best interests.

The court typically considers the following:

  • the reason for the relocation, is it voluntaty or involuntary, and whether it is for a legitimate purpose, such as a job opportunity or to be closer to family
  • the distance of the move and how it will impact the relationship and contact between the children and the non-relocating parent
  • age and developmental needs of the children and how the move will impact their education, social connections, and other important aspects of their lives
  • the nature and quality of the children’s relationships with each parent and how the move will impact those relationships
  • judges may also consider the preferences of the children, especially if they are older and able to express their wishes clearly
  • does one parent have primary custody now at the time of the move
  • what opportunites for the child(ren) are available in the new location that are not available in the current location.

If your ex-spouse doesn’t consent to the move and you relocate without permission, if there is a current Court Order, you may be found in contempt of court and face fines, jail time, or even the loss of custody rights.  If there isnt a current Court order,  unilaterally moving may be viewed as acting not in the best interest of the child(ren) and may give rise to the other parent seeking emergency custody.

If you are considering moving out of the area with your children, you will want to discuss your situation with someone who can guide you through the process and protect your interests.  Our attorneys at Bull & Reinhardt, PLLC are experienced in handling these kinds of matters and can guide you through these decisions.


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