“I’m divorced parent and have been transferred for my job. What do I have to do? What is the 100-mile rule?”
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we find that parties who were divorced only a few years ago do not understand the legal obligation they face if they move. Under the prior rule, a custodial parent had to provide notice of a proposed relocation if the move was more than 100 miles. This is no longer a good law. If either parent moves, regardless of custody status, he or she must provide a notice of relocation.
We believe the Legislature made these 2006 revisions to the relocation law to reflect the current status of our mobile society. No longer does a person graduate (from high school, college, or technical school) and obtain a job within a company that they will move up in and ultimately retire from. The data differs, but the average person will have 10 or more jobs during his or her adult work-life.
Moving is thus expected, and the relocation statute reflects this. The custody relocation attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we also see a countervailing trend in the notion of joint custody. Given this, plus the stability associated with a child remaining in the same community, it appears to relax the legal showing a non-custodial parent had to carry if he or she challenges custody relocation and seeks a modification of custody.
Operationally, this is found in the way the relocation statute operates. Specifically, the new provision requires the relocating parent to provide at least ninety (90) days’ advance notice of relocation, which is filed in the court and served on the other parent. This notice requires the relocating parent to provide the details of the proposed move: the who, what, when, where, why and how.
By statute, the non-relocating parent may object and move to modify custody or parenting time. In determining whether relocation is permitted and custody modified, the trial court now is directed to consider the relocation itself within the custody modification factors.
To test this factor, the court must make a number of inquiries:
- The distance of the proposed new residence.
- The hardship and expense to the non-relocating parent in exercising parenting time or grandparent visitation.
- The ability to preserve the child-parent relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child, given the financial resources of the parties.
- Any pattern of the relocating parent to deny the non-relocating parent contact with the child.
- The relocating parent’s reason for the move.
Ultimately, the child custody relocation attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. find that the essential way to advocate for, or object to, a proposed relocation is to look above the complex burden-shifting provisions of the relocation statute. The crux of this is partnering with the client to develop the facts for or against relocation.
Where a non-relocating parenting objects to the move and seeks custody, it is critical to develop the evidence that exists along two lines. The first is the obvious harm the distance will cause to the parent-child relationship. The second is that the relocating spouse may have other options and, considering the best interests of the child, should consider them.
Contrariwise, we believe the key to advocating for relocating is presenting a clear evidentiary picture of how the non-relocating parent’s parenting time and relationship with the child will be maintained. In addition, the reasons for the relocating parent’s move must be fully developed and demonstrate that it is for lack of a better option.
This seems very simple and common sense. However, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. lawyers find this is not the case. Most clients understand their legal position and objective (to move or not to move) but have not distilled its essence. For instance, if a custodial father desires to relocate because his company is moving, it is likely not sufficient. The focus should also be on why his skill-set or professional training is not needed in the local job market.
This is what Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. custody relocation attorneys do, and do well – develop a unified case theme to facilitate settlement or prepares the case for trial. Custody relocation often determines the course of a professional life and has significant implications for each parent’s parent-child relationship. Great legal care and sensitivity is the order of the day.
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