Can I Move out of State With Joint Child Custody?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on October 16, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Moving out of state with a child in joint custody can subject you to a kidnapping charge. If you want to move out of state and you share custody of your kid, you will need to make a deal.

You can come to an agreement with the other custodial parent or with the court. But do not just move without making an official arrangement.

Joint Custody Defined

Joint legal and physical custody means you share the right to make long-term decisions about the child's welfare and arrange to share time. That means you cannot just take your kid out of state without a custody modification.

If relations with your ex-spouse are cordial, speak directly. If not, use an attorney. Your spouse's express consent should suffice for a court. You must make arrangements for the child to see the other parent on a regular basis. But there should be no legal problem with your plan to move. Speak to an attorney and make sure the child custody agreement is updated and that your paperwork reflects the consent to move was given.

Specifics vary but many states require anywhere for 30-90 days written notice to the other custodial parent of an intent to relocate with a child. Some states will not allow the move without consent from the other parent and will allow the objecting parent to file a motion opposing the move.

Procedures differ in their details, but the underlying principle at play is always the same. Parents who share custody must make plans for the kids together or have an opportunity to oppose a move that may not be in the best interests of the child.

The Distance Factor

How far you plan to move may dictate procedure and the outcome. Some states will consider any out-of-state move very serious, even just over the border. The move may be blocked by the court. Other courts require consent for a move of just 100 miles, even within the state.

Burden of Proof

Some states require parents who want to move to prove good faith. In other words, the move can't just be about getting the kid away from you ex. Instead, you must show that you have an opportunity elsewhere. The opportunity might have to do with work, school, or family. It just can't be to keep your kid and your former spouse apart or that you're feeling a fresh start.

Official Modification

Wherever you are, a substantial change in circumstances demands a modification of the custody arrangement. The move will change many aspects of your arrangement with the spouse -- some financial, some logistical. All of that should be addressed in a modified custody order. Even if you and your spouse seem to agree on everything now, ahead of the move, make your arrangement official.

Speak to a family law attorney who can outline the precise requirements in your state and help you with your child custody modification.

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