Developing a parenting plan is one of the most time-consuming and emotional parts of a divorce. You and your co-parent must decide where the children will live most of the time, where they will spend holidays, and how much time they will spend with each parent.
There are several different ways in which a parenting plan can be made. If you and your co-parent both agree on a plan, you can submit one together to a judge for approval. Otherwise, you and your co-parent will submit separate plans, and a judge will either pick one or create a new plan that is in the best interest of your children.
This process becomes far more complicated if one of you lives out of town, or more than 90 miles away from the children’s primary residence. Depending on the circumstances, a court could prevent a custodial parent from moving away with the children. If you need legal assistance with developing an out-of-town parenting plan in Des Peres, do not hesitate to contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC. Our child custody attorneys have extensive experience helping families develop parenting plans that work for them and serve their children’s best interests. Do not leave your children’s future up to chance. Contact us today to discuss your unique situation with a compassionate legal professional.
Relocating the Children Requires Court Approval
Sometimes a parenting plan is working well, but you or your co-parent decide to move out of Des Peres for a professional opportunity, a relationship, to be closer to elderly parents, or another reason. When one parent relocates and that relocation impacts the children, you must comply with Missouri Revised Statute §452.377. Missouri law requires a relocating parent to notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days before the move. The law is specific about the contents of the notice and how it is delivered, and a parent who plans to move with the children should consult a Des Peres attorney to ensure the notice meets all of the legal requirements. If the other parent agrees to the move, the couple reworks the parenting plan and seeks court approval.
If the other parent objects to the move, the court will hold a hearing. Beware as there is a deadline for objecting and if you miss the deadline, it will be assumed you did not object. If there is a dispute, the relocating parent must prove the move would be in the children’s best interests.
Explanation of the Child’s Best Interest Standard
When a judge decides on an issue regarding children, the child’s best interest is more important than any other consideration. You might feel that getting a better job or marrying someone who will be a great stepparent is obviously in your children’s best interests, but your co-parent might disagree. The judge might also see things differently.
When deciding whether relocation is in a child’s best interests, a judge may consider the following:
- Mental and physical health of both parents and the children
- Degree of the children’s attachment to their current community, including their school and extended family
- Nature of the children’s relationship with the parent who remains behind
- Capacity of the remaining parent to maintain their relationship with the children if they move
- Children’s preferences if they are old enough to express them
- Other factors the judge feels are relevant to the specific case
The judge determines how much weight to give each factor, including the children’s preferences, but in general, the older and more mature the child, the more their opinion could sway the judge.
If a judge believes you want to move to interfere with your co-parent’s relationship with the children, the judge can order that the children cannot be relocated with you when you move. Even if the judge accepts that you have a legitimate reason to move, the judge may still prevent you from taking the children if they find the move will not serve the children’s best interests. If a judge has denied your application to move away, contact a local attorney serving Des Peres as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Crafting a Parenting Plan When One Parent Lives Out of Town
If you and your co-parent live more than 90 miles apart, you must get creative when developing your parenting plan. The plan must allow you both ample opportunities to develop and maintain a close and nurturing relationship with your children.
You could schedule regular video visits between each child and the out-of-town parent. You could adapt the current visitation schedule to allow the out-of-town parent to have the children less frequently but for a longer time. The custodial parent might have to give up holidays with the children to allow the out-of-town parent to spend that time with them. Additionally, the out-of-town parent may receive more time during summer when school is out if they do not receive a lot of time during the school year.
Developing an out-of-town parenting plan is easier and less stressful if the parents can communicate respectfully and put the children’s needs first. An attorney serving Des Peres could help you and your co-parent negotiate an out-of-town parenting plan or review a plan you developed yourselves or through mediation.
Work With an Attorney to Develop an Out-of-Town Parenting Plan in Des Peres
You will need an out-of-town parenting plan if you and your co-parent live more than 90 miles apart. If one of you disagrees with the plan to move, the parent requesting relocation must convince a court that moving is in the children’s best interests.
In either situation, a knowledgeable attorney at Jones Family Law Group, LLC is here to guide you from start to finish of this process. Let our team help you create an out-of-town parenting plan in Des Peres that serves and protects your children’s needs. Call today to discuss your situation with a seasoned lawyer.