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Can Co-Parents Move?
Date: May 21
People move; it is a fact of modern life. Sometimes it is due to school or work needs, sometimes it is to care for ailing family members, and sometimes it is just for a change of pace. But when a child of divorced or never-married parents
is involved, custody often becomes the ultimate factor in determining whether the move the parents are dreaming about actually takes place.
Many people don't realize that the courts encourage parents to consult with each other regarding parenting arrangements before
committing to a move, and as always, they are to consider the best interests of the child above their own. Sometimes that means divorced parents are not free to move as far away or as often as they would like to, but again, the courts' view is that the best interest of the child comes first, regardless of the sacrifices that requires the parents to make. At a minimum, the parent intending to move (affectionately referred to in the field as the "move-away parent") is required by law to give notice to the other parent no less than 30 days before a move. The notice needs to be in writing and sent by restricted, return-receipt requested mail. (Yes, the rule
is that specific.) Move-Away Parents should send this written notice to their co-parent even if the other parent already knows
, and proof of this notice should be kept safe, in case it is later needed to prove compliance with the rule. This notice requirement gives the other parent the chance to file a motion requesting that the Court prohibit or restrict the move.
Normally, when a divorced parent moves, it is considered a material change of circumstances
, enabling the Court to reconsider the custody and parenting time schedule; and sometimes the Court will even change the child's residential parent, if it is in the child's best interest. Some common factors that are considered when a parent wants to move is, first and foremost, what effect the move has on the best interest of the child, and the child's relationship with the non-moving parent; the effect of the move on parenting time and child support (for instance, whether the move would reduce the non-moving parent's time with the child, or place a significant financial burden on the non-moving parent just to exercise parenting time), and the impact on the child's relationships with other people and interests in their lives (not just other relatives and friends, but their community and school, too). As I hinted at above, a move can also be a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant a modification of the child support order.
Long-distance parenting is certainly possible, especially with modern telecommunications and the internet, but there is no guarantee that the Court will allow the Move-Away Parent to take the child, or retain the same custody arrangement as before the move. One thing the parent wanting to move should know up front is whether they will still move even if they have to move alone, leaving the child behind.
Even something as seemingly-simple as moving to a new town for a job can have significant ramifications for divorced and never-married parents. Because these decisions are so difficult as the Court must carefully consider the effect it may have on the child, these cases are not quickly resolved, and may become quite expensive if entered into without proper consideration and planning ahead of time. That's just one more reason why it is a good idea to have a qualified Kansas family law attorney assist you as issues arise throughout your co-parenting journey. You do not have to go it alone - contact us
By Beth Crosland, J.D.
Hillary Stirling, research assistant