For divorcing parents, reaching an agreement about child custody is a key part of finalizing a divorce settlement. After a divorce, though, one parent may want to relocate to a new city or state, potentially impacting each parent’s current time spent with the child, and potentially breaching the child custody agreement. If you or your ex-spouse are thinking about relocating after a divorce, here’s what you should know about relocating with a shared child and the law—

What Are the Rules for Relocating with a Shared Child After a Divorce?

First of all, whether or not you need court approval to move after a divorce depends on whether or not you have custody of the child and the other parent has visitation rights. If you do not have any custodial rights, you can move; if the other parent does not have any custodial rights, they can move. Moving without court permission is only an issue when the move will affect the other parent’s relationship with the shared child. 

If you are the parent with primary custody and you are planning to move, the first thing that you’ll need to do is provide notice about the move to the other parent. This notice serves as an opportunity for the other parent to object to the move. You will both then need to go to court and get permission from the judge, who will either allow or block the relocation. 

What Happens if My Ex-Spouse and I Disagree About the Relocation?

Sometimes, parents are in agreement about one parent’s move; other times, there is strong disagreement. When parties disagree, they’ll need to head to the courts. The court will determine whether or not the parental relocation is in the child’s best interests using the “real advantage” standard. Should the “real advantage” to the child not apply, then it’s likely that the court will block the move. In order to determine the “real advantage,” the court may consider factors such as the relocating parent’s reason for wanting to relocate, the other parent’s motivation for allowing or blocking the move, how the move will affect the child’s development, and how the move will impact the other parent’s visitation rights with the child. Even if the court does allow the move, it may issue an order related to parental visitation. 

What Is the Role of a Family Attorney During a Parental Relocation After Divorce? 

Whether you are the parent who is hoping to relocate or you are trying to block your ex’s relocation, working with a family law attorney can prove helpful. A family law attorney can provide legal support along the way and help you to gather evidence to support your side. Your attorney can represent you in negotiations with your spouse, as well as in the courtroom. 

Call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward Today 

If you or your spouse are considering relocation and the relocation will impact the child custody and visitation rights of either of you, call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward to learn more about the process and your rights. You can reach our Massachusetts family law attorney by phone at (617) 903-8955 or by sending our law firm a message at your convenience.