When parents divorce, they have to make a decision about who will have custody of any children that they share, what the visitation rights of the other parent will be, what a schedule of shared parenting time will look like, and more. While many parents are able to work together to create the perfect parenting plan that accounts for all parties’ needs and preferences, even the best arrangement can be derailed by a custodial parent’s desire to move out of state. If a parent wants to move out of state with their child–referred to as “out of state removal”–things can become complicated. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our attorney can help you to understand out of state removal laws, and what happens if you and your ex-spouse are in disagreement about what should happen.

Out of State Removal of a Child

When parents are married, either parent has the legal right to take the child out of state. For example, one parent may want to take a trip with a child, and has the right to do so. In fact, if a court has not issued a judgement about custody of a child, a parent could even move out of state with the child legally.

But once the court has become involved in a child custody case, out of state removal of a child is no longer permissible. To be sure, Chapter 208 Section 30 of Massachusetts General Laws reads that “a minor child of divorced parents…whose custody and maintenance a probate court has jurisdiction shall not…be removed…without the consent of both parents, unless the court upon cause shown otherwise orders.”

Getting Your Ex-Spouse’s or the Court’s Permission for Removal

The law cited above makes it clear that if you are divorced, even if you have custody of your child, you cannot move your child out of the state without the permission of your former spouse, or without the permission of the court in the case that your ex-spouse will not grant permission. Keep in mind that the law isn’t just for divorced couples, but for any parents whose child was born in the state or/and lived here for at least five years, and who were involved (or are currently involved) in a divorce suit, child custody suit, paternity case, or suit for separate support.

If you want to move out of the state, the easiest way to do so is to get permission from your child’s other parent; if you do this, you do not need permission from the court. You may consider using a mediator to help you and your ex-spouse reach an agreement. If an agreement is struck, be sure that this is put in writing and signed in front of a notary.

If your child’s other parent will not  grant permission for you to leave the state, you will need to ask the court for permission. This involves filing a complaint or motion to request permission for removal. The judge responsible for hearing your case will only grant permission if removal is within your child’s best interests. This determination will be made by a review of the evidence, including the reasons you want to move, how the move will affect the relationship between the child and the other parent, and the benefits you and your child will experience economically, socially, and emotionally as a result of the move.

Our Experienced Child Removal Attorney Can Help

Whether you are a parent who wants to move your child out of our state or a parent who is terrified by the idea of your child leaving, our experienced child removal lawyer can help. For your initial consultation with the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, please call us today at (617) 903-8955, or send us a confidential message using the intake form on our website. We know how sensitive these matters are, and will approach your case with the care it deserves.