In today’s global world, custodial parents often need or want to relocate for work or because of a new romantic interest. We are truly a mobile society and few people stay in the same house or job for the lifetime or career. However, relocation (unless its closer to the non-custodial parent) typically creates a problem with the non-custodial parent maintaining the same parenting time with his or her child.
For instance, relocation of a short distance may make mid-week parenting not feasible. A relocation across the Country may make weekend parenting time impossible and trigger parenting time where distance is a major factor under the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.
A parent seeking to relocate must file a notice of intent to relocate on each nonrelocating individual who is a party not later than thirty (30) days before the date of the intended relocation or not more that fourteen (14) day after the relocating individual becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner.
There a very technical requirements as to who must be served notice and how far in advance, and the content of the relocation notice, which includes the following:
If the move is imminent, a relocating parent or nonrelocating parent may seek a restraining order restraining the relocation or permitting the relocation until the trial court can have an evidentiary hearing on the relocation. That said, an adult has a constitutional right to travel and the order cannot restrain the parent from moving, but if he or she is the custodial parent, it can prevent the children from relocating. In other words, the court can enter a temporary order until you can develop your case for relocation or why it should not be allowed, and the court will set sufficient time to hear the matter.
Ultimately, at the request of any party, the court will hold a hearing on relocation and effectively consider relocation as one of the custody considerations it makes in determining a child’s best interests. For the relocating parent, it is key to show this move is not made to thwart the other parent’s parenting time, is necessary, and the move is in the best interests of the children. This is the work of a good lawyer done in many ways, such as showing the schools in the relocating town or city are better, along with having a plan to involve the nonrelocating parent as much as possible in the children’s lives, such as through technology like Facetime or Zoom. The relocating parent has the burden of proof to show the court the proposed relocation is made in good faith and for a legitimate reason. If that showing is made, the burden shifts to the nonrelocating parent to show that the proposed relocation is not in the best interests of the children.
In essence, a relocation case is just a physical custody modification case with the additional consideration for the court of the relocation itself. This is where each parent needs a skilled lawyer to meet their respective burdens. There are numerous tools skilled domestic counsel may employ to protect your interests and position for or against physical custody modification based on relocation. For instance, it is possible to seek a custody evaluation considering the impact of relocation on the children and the non-relocation, which can make a recommendation to the court if this is in the child’s best interests. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates have litigated relocation cases throughout the state where relocation was to another state or country and have significant experience in this area of law and appeals of trial court’s relocation orders. Perhaps we should be your counsel.
Proven & experienced attorneys successfully advocating & resolving complex cases for over 25 years