In 2006, the General Assembly adopted a comprehensive set of statutes to be followed in the event either party in a divorce or post-divorce proceeding moved. This requires either parent (custodial or the one who has parenting time) to notify the other they are moving and allows objection to the move. The obvious focus is to allow a court to determine how this impacts the children’s best interests. This new statutory scheme ultimately raised a number of legal questions that were addressed by Indiana’s courts.
The first is whether and how a relocation by a parent impacts child custody modification. The Indiana Supreme Court1 addressed this in 2008 and determined that relocation is a factor that may constitute a substantial change to allow modification of custody. A move across or the down the street probably does not have much if any impact on the child and is not a basis for modification of custody, versus a move across the state, nation or to a different country.
The second and perhaps most key point is the parent’s reason for moving and particularly with the custodial parent, how it impacts the non-relocating parent’s relationship with a child. Where this relocation is made in good faith, but has the potential on weighing a host of factors to impact the parent-child relationship in a negative way, it may constitute a substantial change and be a reason to modify custody.
Thirdly, in the most recent of cases decided by the Indiana Court of Appeals, it found the mere filing of a Notice of Intent to relocate does not give a trial court the power to modify child support absent a petition to modify child support.2 A rather hard and fast rule is a parent who seeks to modify child support has a certain legal showing to make in the evidence and an Indiana trial court can only modify child support with a modification petition before it. Thus, a potential legal shortfall a parent may make is to presuppose Notice of Intent to Relocation being filed is the same as or included child support modification.
These are some of the case law considerations that supplement and develop the relocation statute that every parent contemplating relocation or faced with relocation must understand to aid his or her attorney in properly advocating their position to reach or to attempt to attain his or her legal objectives. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. It is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific legal advice or a solicitation for legal services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice domestic law and handle appeals throughout the State of Indiana.