In 2006, the General Assembly enacted a new statute addressing relocation of parents in the child custody provisions of the Divorce and Paternity Act. The relocation provisions required certain notice to be given to a non-relocating parent who may object. This was interpreted by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2008 in the Baxendale case.1
In general, Baxendale, directed a trial court may consider relocation as a part of the best interests factors and modify custody to the non-relocating parent. Since this statute and the Baxendale case decision, three key mistakes or concerns every parent in a relocation case should be aware are outlined in this blog post.
First, and while obvious, Indiana’s trial courts have not granted relocation where it was a tactical ploy to geographically keep the child aware from the non-custodial parent. Before the relocation statute, the 100-mile rule allowed a custodial parent to move within a 100 mile range and this normally did not cause issue with custody arrangements by a court. In other words, more purely for the sake of moving to thwart the other parent’s parenting time with the child, is not going to be viewed in good faith and for a legitimate reason and is likely to be denied.
Second, a relocation petition puts the issue of modification of custody before the Court and courts have sometimes denied relocation and modified custody to the other parent, if this is in the child’s best interests. Thus, a notice of relocation should be carefully considered and the need to relocate analyzed with counsel before it is filed.
Third, a notice of relocation is not a substitute for a modification of child support.2 Thus, relocation alone will not put this issue before the Court and it (a petition to modify child support) must be filed for a trial court to consider modification of child support. Thus, relocation is a legally complex process and all of the variables and legal objectives must be considered and brought before the court.
Relocation is a complex factual and legal concept that involves the best interests analysis, a relocation burden of proof and other best interests factors brought about by the proposed relocation as set forth in Baxendale. We hope this blog post has helped you understand the complexities of relocation. If so, it has met its educational objectives.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle relocation and other divorce, paternity and post decree cases throughout the greater Indianapolis area and the State of Indiana. This blog post is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for legal services. It is an advertisement.