Relocations & Custody Agreements: What You Need to Know

In News by YKF Law

Let’s face it- divorce isn’t pretty. It’s never easy when a couple decides to end their marriage and separate their family. A divorce involving children can become complicated, not only because of custody agreements but also for the emotional well-being of the children involved.

Divorce and custody agreements can be complicated on their own, but add in a parent requesting to relocate and you’ve got another hurdle to overcome. While it would be convenient if people stayed in their home states their entire lives, it’s not always feasible. Relocations for work, new relationships, and being closer to family are just some of the many reasons why people move.

Unfortunately, relocating when you have a custody order isn’t as easy as you may think. Before legal matters you were free to pick up and move relatively easily, however, that’s no longer the case if you have a custody order in place. 

Our family law attorneys at The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC, are here to help you understand relocations and how they affect custody agreements. Continue reading to learn more.

Can I relocate easily if I have legal or physical custody?

A parent that has legal custody (the right to make decisions for the child’s upbringing) or physical custody (how the child spends their time) cannot easily relocate regardless of how often they have the child in their custody.

Just because a parent has a child that lives with them a majority of the time, they cannot up and move without complying with particular requirements of the law, such as notifying the other parent of a proposed relocation in advance. Likewise, just because a parent has legal custody doesn’t mean they can decide for their child to move without the other parent and the court’s involvement.

The Relocation Process

Things happen and sometimes you have to move whether it be in the same state or across the country. While it may seem tempting to accept a new job offer in a different state or city or move closer to your family that lives far away, don’t make any sudden decisions if you have an established custody order and parenting plan.

Relocation isn’t as easy as just picking up and moving when children are involved, especially if there’s a parenting plan or custody order in place. Relocating is a process that must involve following specific laws and steps that may need to be approved by the court before you can begin your move. 

So what are the required steps? The parent who is moving is required to physically hand or mail via certified mail a notice to the non-moving parent 60 days before the move in Missouri and 30 days before the move in Kansas. This is required whether the parent is requesting to move down the street or to a new state. Keep in mind that laws may change and thus notification timelines may change as well. If you are ever in doubt, seek legal advice.

If the non-moving parent agrees to allow the children to move with the moving parent then both parties may need to submit an affidavit to the court that outlines their new parenting plan. A judge will turn the affidavit into a court order and the parent who wishes to move can do so and the new parenting plan will be set into place.

On the other hand, if the non-moving parent doesn’t want their children to move then they must file an objection with the court after receiving the notice from the moving parent. Once the non-moving parent’s affidavit is filed then the parent wishing to move must file a counter-affidavit and court proceedings will follow.

Will a Judge permit me to relocate with my children?

A judge may approve or deny your request to relocate. Just because you submit an affidavit with the court and the other parent agrees on a new parenting plan, that doesn’t mean a judge will approve it. Likewise, if the non-moving parent requests that your move be blocked by the court that doesn’t mean a judge will grant their wishes.

The court will determine whether or not a parent can relocate by several factors:

  • The relocation must be in good faith
  • The moving parent needs to follow all notice requirements mentioned earlier
  • The best interests of the child

Relocating can be exciting, but if you have a court-ordered custody agreement and parenting plan then you’ll need to take caution when it comes to relocating. Missouri and Kansas courts take the best interest of the children seriously which is why there are laws to follow when it comes to relocating with a court-ordered agreement.

If you’re considering relocating and are looking for a family law attorney in Lee’s Summit or a child custody attorney in Kansas City, contact The Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC. With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team that’s skilled in both negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward.

We have offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas (consultations by appointment only). In addition to our two physical locations, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri as well as Johnson County, Kansas.