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Can you move if you’re sharing custody?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2023 | Child Custody & Visitation |

You get divorced, and you and your spouse cannot determine on your own how you want to share custody of your children. You go to court, and a ruling is made. The court provides an order that you both have to follow, stipulating how you are supposed to share custody. Or, perhaps, you and your child’s other parent agree on all the terms of your co-parenting arrangements from the start.

At first, both of you are fine with this order. Perhaps the children live with you for one week and with your spouse the next week. You set up a simple schedule where you exchange custody on Sunday evenings. But then you decide that you want to move. Can you do so? Or could this create some problems?

What are your ex’s rights?

The issue that this can sometimes create is that your ex also has a right to see the children. In this example, you each have them for one week. But if you moved to another city that is four hours away, would it still be realistic for your ex to still see the children on schedule? What if you moved out of the state? As you can see, a significant move could be a violation of your ex’s rights because it would keep them from effectively exercising their parenting time. They may ask the court to deny you the ability to move and take the children with you.

What can you do?

In some cases, the court will still allow you to move. It will simply want to understand why you’re making this decision and whether it would be beneficial for the children. Potentially valid reasons to move include:

  • Going back to school
  • Taking a job
  • Seeking out other living conditions
  • Moving closer to other family members

One thing that courts are wary about is when one parent wants to move simply to be spiteful to their ex. By showing that you have a genuine reason to move that would benefit you and your child, you can then demonstrate that your court order should be reasonably modified.

You should never move without having the order modified in advance. Ideally, you and your co-parent will be able to agree upon new terms and the court will simply need to formalize them. But if you don’t and you need to navigate a contentious process, forging ahead without the court’s permission could be a serious violation of your ex’s rights. It could also put your own custody rights in jeopardy. Seek legal guidance proactively before doing anything that could compromise what you’re trying to build.