A parent seeking to relocate can do so at any time. The courts do not control where anyone chooses to live. Relocating with minor children, however, is a different matter. Parental relocation requests occur when one parent wants to move from the current area of child custody jurisdiction to another area. These requests can take place during divorce proceedings, as well as after the divorce has been finalized. Regardless of the timing, if one parent wants to relocate with their minor children it poses certain challenges. If the parents involved cannot come to an agreement, a family court judge will make a decision and render a court order. These matters are some of the most complicated that come before the court. If you are looking to relocate with your minor children, you deserve to have the experienced counsel of a Las Vegas divorce attorney to present the best possible case for your relocation request.
Child Custody Orders
A child custody order establishes which parent, or parents, have legal and physical custody of the minor children. Physical custody concerns where the children live and for what time period. Legal custody concerns the authority to make important decisions regarding the children’s upbringing, including education, religion, and health issues.
The family courts may grant joint legal and physical custody to both parents. This is the preferred and most common form of child custody agreement. In these instances, the minor children live with each parent roughly half the time. Barring one parent’s unfitness for joint custody, the courts intent is to have both parents as involved in their children’s upbringing as possible. In instances where the courts rule for primary physical custody for one parent, that parent is the “custodial parent” with “primary physical custody.” As a general rule, this means that the children physically reside with one parent more than 60 percent of the time.
What if the Parents Can’t Agree?
In order to relocate with minor children, the moving parent must secure the permission of the other parent. If the other parent refuses to consent to the move, then the party seeking to relocate must petition the court for permission to move with their minor children. The burden of proof for the benefit of the move is on the parent wishing to relocate. The other parent does not have to prove otherwise.
Relocation After Divorce
Typically relocation does not mean simply moving down the block. Relocation involves taking the children to another state or far enough away in-state so as to interfere with the custody or visitation rights of the other parent.
Ideally, a final decree of divorce would fully resolve all issues between the ex-spouses, including child custody. In the real world, however, things change. People’s lives are not static, and the needs of the ex-spouses and their children may shift over time. For example, one parent might want to take a job offer in a new state or might simply wish to start over in a new location after the final decree of divorce.
If the parents share joint physical custody, or if the party seeking to relocate is the non-custodial parent, the party seeking to relocate has an additional hurdle to overcome: They must petition the court to become the primary custodial parent, and then seek permission to relocate.
Securing Court Permission
In order to secure court permission to relocate with children, the parent initiating the action must first prove that they have a good faith reason for the move. This could be a new job, access to the support of close family, and health issues, among others. In any event, the reason for the move request must be a legitimate benefit for the parent.
After establishing that baseline, the court will evaluate whether the move is in the best interests of the children. Factors that the court evaluates include the educational opportunities, the quality of life, and the ability to maintain contact with both parents for each location. Depending on the age of the minor children, the court may also consider the children’s preference. Again, the court’s primary concern is the welfare and best interest of the children.
Experienced Counsel for Parental Relocation
Our effective divorce and child custody attorneys are ready to help you fight for your parental rights. We offer seasoned advice and legal representation in child custody and visitation disputes, as well as all other aspects of divorce and marital law. Attorneys Jennifer V. Abrams and Vincent Mayo offer courtesy phone consultations at no charge. Call 702-222-4021 to speak with one of them about your parental relocation or divorce issues.