When two parents live apart, such as after a divorce, there is often a question of whether one of them should be allowed to relocate and take their child with them, if one parent decides or intends to move out of the immediate area. Whether the move is the result of a new job opportunity, a new real estate purchase, or to be closer to family, Connecticut law requires a parent who wishes to relocate a substantial distance away with a child to prove a variety of factors. Specifically, that parent and their family lawyer must demonstrate to a judge that there is a reasonable basis for the relocation and, ultimately, that the relocation is consistent with the best interests of the child.
Whether you are looking to relocate with a child or wish to prevent your child’s other parent from doing so, by consulting a Fairfield County relocation lawyer, you could develop the best possible strategy to protect your interests and secure a favorable outcome in court. Relocation is always treated as a very serious matter as it frequently results in the non-custodial parent being unable to see their child on a regular basis, if a move is allowed and results in significant distance between the child and non-relocating parent. Careful planning and a sound strategy, developed with your Fairfield County relocation lawyer, are necessary to win or defend against a relocation case.
Relocation cases are also the most difficult to resolve via a settlement as there is frequently no ability to compromise – the parent seeking to move has a specific target location with reasons specific to that location and it is difficult if not impossible to find a different, significantly closer destination which works for both sides.
When parents divorce or separate, they are required to abide by the terms of a parenting plan that addresses many different topics, including the schedule as to when the child(ren) will spend time with each parent. One of the assumptions when it comes to child custody and parenting plans is that both parents will continue to live roughly the same distance apart and/or in the same area in which the family lived pre-divorce so that the custody arrangement remains workable and that so the child(ren) can continue at their regular school, maintain their activities and social connections in the community. However, if one of the parents wish to relocate with the child further away, they may have to obtain judicial permission via a relocation proceeding in the event the other parent opposes the move.
A relocation proceeding has three prongs. The parent who wishes to relocate must demonstrate that (1) the move is for a legitimate reason; (2) the proposed new location is reasonable in light of the reason; and, ultimately, (3) the relocation is in the child(ren)’s best interests. Broadly speaking, the third prong is where the bulk of attention in a relocation case is focused and it is not uncommon for a parent seeking to move away with the children to satisfy the first two prongs but see their request to relocate denied based on prong number 3. Often the inquiry depends heavily on the effect the proposed relocation will have on the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent.
On route to issuing a decision within the above framework, the judge is obligated to consider a variety of statutorily enumerated factors when deciding whether to approve or deny the relocation. Those are as follows:
It is important to understand that a judge can only prevent a child from relocating – but not a parent. This means that, if a parent’s request to relocate with a child is denied, nothing will prevent that parent from going ahead with the relocation.
It is also worthwhile to understand that the process described above only applies in cases where there is an existing child custody order. Alternatively, if a parent wishes to relocate with a child while divorce or separation proceedings are still pending, or if the parent wishes to move at the time of divorce, the proposed relocation must either be approved or denied according to the best interests of the child. During a pendency of a divorce case, certain Automatic Orders in effect also serve to prevent either parent from removing the child absent court order or agreement of the parties.
Relocation can be one of the most hotly contested issues to come up in a co-parenting arrangement. The best interests of the child is always the most important consideration when a court is asked to decide on a relocation matter. Contact a Fairfield County relocation lawyer today to speak with a local family law team about how to best pursue or fight a relocation.