Bennett Wolff Attorney at Law

Relocating to a Different State When Children Are Involved


While a divorce or separation can cause many changes in a person’s lifestyle, most people do not consider the difficulties of relocating if children are involved. Whether you are the custodial parent or share joint custody with the other party, relocation can be a complicated process. Continue reading to educate yourself on relocation laws so you can come to the best resolution possible for yourself and your family.

How is Jurisdiction Decided?

In the past, child custody jurisdiction has been a point of contention in family law because of inconsistency and irregularity over state lines. Today, every state except for Massachusetts has decided that the jurisdiction for a child resides in their “home state”. This means that the custody case and litigation will take place in the state where the child has lived for the past six months.

What happens if the child has not resided in any state for six consecutive months? In cases like these, the state with the most significant connections will obtain jurisdiction over the minor. If the child is younger than six months, jurisdiction will be determined by the state in which the child was born.

Your Rights as a Parent

If a parent wants to relocate with their child, they must at least have sole custody, joint custody, or equal physical custody. Although this does not guarantee the ability to move with the child, these qualifications give the parent a chance to plead their case in court if there is resistance to relocate from the other parent.

Relocation From the Judge’s Point of View

A judge will contemplate multiple facets of the situation if one parent decides they want to relocate. The most important factor taken into consideration will be whether or not the move is in the child’s best interest. The parent who is wishing to relocate must prove that the move will be beneficial to the child and will give them more positive opportunities than their current place of residence.

The judge will also consider the parenting time of the party who is not choosing to relocate. They will look at the distance of the move and the financial circumstances involved to ensure that the non-relocating parent will be able to continue having meaningful parenting time with the child. Depending on their age and maturity level, a judge may also seek the personal opinion of the child before reaching a final decision.

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About the Author

Attorney Bennett Wolff provides personalized and strong representation for family law cases, including: divorce, child custody, relocation of a minor child, child sexual abuse, child support, spousal support and partition of community property with 30 years of experience in the area of Family law.