Relocation is an issue that comes up frequently after a divorce or the end of a long-term relationship. One spouse may move somewhere else to be near family, join a new partner, or take a new professional opportunity—and they want to bring the children.
The law in Missouri is particular about how custodial parents must handle a move, even within the same neighborhood. Whether you are a parent who wants to move or one concerned about how a move could impact your children, consider speaking with a knowledgeable family attorney from our firm.
A Ballwin relocation lawyer from Jones Family Law Group, LLC could explain the law and make sure the move does not violate it. Additionally, seasoned legal counsel could work diligently to help you and your co-parent resolve differences of opinion about relocation. If matters proceed to court, a member of our team could zealously represent you and advocate for your child’s best interests.
Process for Initiating a Relocation
In Missouri, most Parenting Plans or custody agreements contain information about the relocation requirements if a parent wants to move. The law does not bar a parent from moving with the children, but the migrating parent faces a cumbersome approval process.
Missouri Revised Statutes §452.377 describes the procedure a parent must follow if they want to relocate. Parents must follow this procedure—any change to a child’s permanent address triggers the following requirements. Failure to follow these steps will put your relocation approval in jeopardy.
Notice From Relocating Parent
The parent who wants to move must provide everyone else with custody or visitation rights with notice of their intention to relocate with the children at least 60 days before the proposed move. The notice must contain detailed information about the move, including the new address. The Notice must also describe if the relocation will affect the schedule and if so, the moving parent’s suggestions for how to address those changes. The notice must also be sent by certified mail – sending an email or text will not meet the requirements. Judges are strict about enforcing these requirements. An attorney serving Ballwin could review a relocation notice to ensure it complies with the applicable statute.
Parent’s Response to Relocation Notice
The other parent has 30 days after receiving the relocation notice to file a motion with the court objecting to the move. The motion must be specific about how the relocation would interfere with the parent/child relationship and fail to be in the children’s best interests. The relocating parent then has 14 days to respond with an answer describing why the move is necessary and would benefit the kids.
How Judges Decide on Relocation
The best interests of the children govern all decisions judges make. In a relocation case, the court also must consider whether the relocating parent’s decision was made in good faith. The parent who wants to relocate must convince the judge that they have valid reasons for moving and that the children will benefit.
Judges will consider whether the move attempts to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the children. A relocating parent could relieve that concern by offering a revised parenting plan allowing the other parent significant time with the children and even electronic visitation or contact such as FaceTime or other video communications.
However, the plan must be workable. If the children are so far away that financial considerations would limit in-person time between the children and the co-parent, a judge might not accept it.
Children’s Best Interests
The relocating parent also must show that the reasons for the move will benefit the children—for example, a higher paying job would present the children with more opportunities, or being near family would offer the children a chance to strengthen relationships with extended family. Courts generally favor stability for children, so presenting a persuasive argument that relocation is best for the children could require help from a Ballwin attorney.
The law allows judges to consider numerous factors when deciding whether a decision supports a child’s best interests. They include the children’s ages and temperaments, their attachment to friends, school, and community, their relationship with each parent, and the obstacles to maintaining a meaningful relationship with the parent who stays behind if the judge allows relocation.
Possible Decisions in a Relocation Action
If the parent who wants to move convinces the judge that their reasons are valid and will benefit the children, the judge will likely approve the move. The court will require the parents to submit a revised parenting plan that supports the children’s relationship with the parent who will stay behind.
If the judge is not convinced, they could deny permission for the children to relocate. The judge might transfer physical custody to the other parent so the parent seeking relocation could still move if they choose.
Even if a judge denies relocation, you and your co-parent could still compromise. A Ballwin attorney could help parents find a solution if one parent feels compelled to move a considerable distance away.
Work With a Committed Ballwin Relocation Attorney Today
If you or your co-parent wants to move, there is a specific procedure you must follow. Neglecting any aspect of the process could delay your plans or even result in a court changing custody arrangements.
A Ballwin relocation lawyer could ensure you follow the law and help persuade a judge that your goals for relocation are best for the children. Call Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to schedule a consultation.