In some ways, a divorce may never truly end, at least for many years. This is especially true for parents. As the children grow up, custody and visitation arrangements that were in their best interests when the divorce happened may no longer make sense. Or the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay child support may increase or decrease as his or her career progresses.
Distance is another factor for many parents post-divorce. It is common for people to move out of state, perhaps to pursue a job opportunity, continue a new relationship, or maybe just for a change of scenery. But in Minnesota, custodial parents must get permission from the non-custodial parent, if he or she has parenting time before they can move with the kids to a new state.
If the non-custodial parent objects, it is time to go to court. As with most child custody matters, the judge must use the child’s best interests as the standard when deciding whether to allow the relocation. Factors the statute directs the judge to consider include:
· The nature, extent, quality and duration of the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other “significant persons in the child’s life”
· The child’s age, developmental stage and needs, and the likely impact the move would have on his or her physical, educational and emotional development
· The feasibility of preserving the relationship with the parent who is not relocating
· The child’s preference, considering his or her age and maturity
The burden of proof is on the would-be relocating parent to show that moving is in the child’s best interests. Also, moving away simply to deprive the other parent of his or her visitation rights is not permitted.
Parents involved in a proposed relocation should consult with a family law attorney as soon as possible.