Most divorcing couples and divorced parties (and parties to paternity cases) know that if they move (or “relocate” in legal parlance) during or after a divorce/paternity, they must file a Notice of Intent to Relocate. For a long period, most of Indiana followed Marion County’s rule on relocation, which meant a party could move 100 miles without taking any legal action. However, in recent years that changed when the Legislature passed a new relocation statute.1 This statute required a moving parent to file a Notice before the move, and, if objected to, show the move was made in good faith and for a legitimate reason. To refine these sometimes-harsh requirements2 of the relocation statute, the Legislature modified this law effective July 1st. This blog focuses on the key changes you need to know3 on relocation laws.
Ninety (90) days’ notice shortened to thirty (30) days. Prior to July 1, 2019, the law required the relocating parent to provide ninety (90) days’ advance notice of relocation. The law now requires the relocating parent to provide a much shorter notice of relocation depending on when the parent learns of or desires to relocate, and states: “[N]ot later than thirty (30) days before the date of the intended relocation or not more than fourteen (14) days after the relocating individual becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner.” This a substantial change from the previous 90-day requirement. As noted, the General Assembly also provided a 14-day provision to account for the realities of life. This better balances the need and timelines of relocation with the rights of the non-relocating parent. The shorter period of time is fact-sensitive and may apply also.
What to include in the notice? The new statutory scheme also sets for the precise requirements for the content of the Notice of Intent to Relocate. First, the Notice must include all telephone numbers for the relocating parent. This modernizes the language of this relocation statute. The old law required a “home” phone number along with any others associated with the relocating individual, but now the legislature is aware that most home phone lines no longer exist. So cell phones are acceptable and reflect the changing times—many homes do not have a land-line or have voice over IP phones. Second, the new Notice does not require a proposal for parenting time with the move. The relocating parent now must only include a statement of whether they do or do not believe that a revision of parenting time or grandparent visitation is necessary. Once again, this reflects the flexibility needed in our mobile society. Third, the new statutory scheme removes the 60-day objection period. A relocating parent is now required to state that, “a nonrelocating parent must file a response regarding the relocation of the child with the court not later than twenty (20) days after service of the notice.” Fourth, the new statutes require the moving parent to provide notice to the non-relocating parent that they may petition for an order to prevent the temporary or permanent relocation of a child. Finally, the new Notice requires a statement that certain existing orders remain in effect—the relocation itself does not change the current orders of the Court.
An exception to providing notice. The most significant change is the law now provides an exception to the relocating parent who is normally required to provide notice to the court. If the exception applies, the relocating individual does not have to file notice with the Court. However, the relocating parent must still provide notice to the nonrelocating parent. Additionally, the relocation must have been addressed by a prior court order and the relocation will either result in a decrease in distance between the parents or will result in an increase that is not more than 20 miles further away from the nonrelocating parent. If these requirements are met, notice to the court is not required as long as the child is allowed to remain enrolled in his/her current school. The addition of such a provision allows for parties to work with their counsels in establishing agreements that recognize future relocations and reduce the potential for litigation.
Overall these changes reflect an understanding by the General Assembly that times are changing and afford more flexibility to relocating parties. The attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. handle relocations of all types throughout the state. This blog is written for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.
- The first case Indiana Supreme Court on the first version of the relocation state is Baxendale v. Raich, 878 N.E.2d 1252 (Ind.2008).
- Perhaps the most onerous requirement was the requirement the relocating parent provide 90 days’ advance notice of intent to relocate.
- This blog highlights key changes, but not all of the changes in the controlling statutes and practice.