Out of State

How Does a Parent Moving Out of State Affect Child Custody?

Couples who are divorced often ask “how does a parent moving out of state affect child custody?” As attorneys experienced in family law, we are well-positioned to answer this question. Why would a parent move out of state? There are many reasons a person may need to relocate. Commonly, it’s a job opportunity, but it can also be because of a medical need, a new relationship, an ailing family member, the chance to start fresh, or simply a desire for a change of scenery.

Whatever the reason, the situation gets significantly more complicated if you have a custody agreement with a former spouse. As the move affects someone else’s parenting time and your child’s life, these are important factors that must be considered.

Custodial Parent Moving Out of State

If you are the custodial parent looking to relocate, your decision will be guided by the Indiana Notice of Intent to Relocate statute. Those involved in custody orders, parenting time orders, grandparent visitation orders, or child support orders are required by the statute to file a notice with the proper court (if the move is more than 20 miles from the other parent’s home AND requires a change in the child(ren)’s school.), outlining their intent. Notification should be filed with the court where your custody agreement was finalized.

Non-Custodial Parent Moving Out of State

In Indiana, the law requires that non-custodial parents moving out of state also file a notice with the court about the planned relocation if the move is more than 20 miles from the other parent’s home AND requires a change in the child(ren)’s school. This information must be shared with the custodial parent, too. Quite simply, the process is very similar to what is required of the custodial parent.

Both parents have a continuing duty to keep the other informed of address, phone number, and email.

While both parents have rights, when making decisions regarding custody, visitation, and relocation, Indiana courts focus on the child’s best interests.

How to Get Permission to Move Out of State with a Child

In most cases, the parent who wishes to move needs to send an official notice to the non-relocating parent. The notice needs to include all pertinent information, including:

  1. File and serve the notice on each nonrelocating individual who is a party to the action in accordance with the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure not later than thirty (30) days before the date of the intended relocation or not more than fourteen (14) days after the relocating individual becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner;
  2. Send the notice to any nonrelocating individual who is not a party to the action by registered or certified mail not later than thirty (30) days before the date of the intended relocation or not more than fourteen (14) days after the relocating individual becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner; and
  3. Provide the following information in the notice:
    • The intended new residence, including the:
      • address; and
      • mailing address of the relocating individual, if the mailing address is different than the address under item (i).
    • All telephone numbers for the relocating individual.
    • The date that the relocating individual intends to move.
    • A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child.
    • A statement that the relocating individual either does or does not believe that a revision of parenting time or grandparent visitation is necessary.
    • A statement that a nonrelocating parent must file a response regarding the relocation of the child with the court not later than twenty (20) days after service of the notice.
    • The following statements:
      • A statement that a party may file a petition requesting an order to prevent the temporary or permanent relocation of a child.
      • A statement that a nonrelocating individual may file a petition to modify a custody order, parenting time order, grandparent visitation order, or child support order.
      • A statement that all existing orders for custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation, and child support remain in effect until modified by the court.

Adherence to the rules does not guarantee a smooth transition. The non-custodial parent may object to the move, in which case both parties must present evidence of their side at a hearing. The burden of proof is placed on the parent wishing to relocate. If the judge deems the need for relocation legitimate, it becomes the responsibility of the other parent to prove that the move is not in the best interests of the child.

What Does an Indiana Court Review in an Out-of-State Relocation Custody Case

The court will hear the case for relocating. In making any decisions, courts in Indiana carefully review many factors relating to the move, including:

  • The distance involved: How far the parents will live from each other.
  • Expenses and hardships: Will the non-relocating parent be negatively affected in terms of their ability to exercise parenting time or visitation?
  • Relationships: Understanding the feasibility of relationship preservation for the child and the non-relocating parent.
  • Contact history: Whether the relocating individual has a history of promoting or discouraging the non-custodial individual’s contact with the child.
  • Underlying factors: Understanding the reason for relocation and the reason for any objections.
  • Child’s best interests: The judge will consider anything else that may affect the child’s interests, including his or her age and desire to move.

How Does a Parent Moving Out of State Affect Child Custody?

When one parent (be it custodial or non-custodial) moves out of state, child custody can be affected. At the very least, based on the move’s distance, your parenting arrangement will need to be updated. Because every family dynamic is unique, each case is different. That said, the court generally rules in favor of whatever maximizes quality time with each parent.

If the proposed move is just a couple of hours away, adjusting the schedule is likely less complex than a cross-country relocation. Sometimes simply adding some weekends and vacations to the current custody arrangement is possible.

However, if the distance is significant, it’s common for the court to decide that there is value in spending considerable time with the other parent in the form of all school vacations as well as ensuring extended lengths of time during routine visits.

There is another less-common solution in which all the custodial individuals move. This isn’t usually feasible, but in some amicable custodial situations, it may be worth considering. No court has the power to order the relocating person to stay in town; but no matter what the current custody division is, modifications might be a necessary byproduct of parental relocation. This may even mean giving primary custody to the non-relocating person.

It should be noted that with any relocation objection comes the willingness on the part of the non-relocating parent to take on primary custody if the court rules in his or her favor.

We Can Help with Child Custody and Relocation Issues

Whatever your situation, the New Albany, IN, child relocation lawyers at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law can help. We understand the issues and can guide you through the custody process, regardless of how difficult or hopeless it may seem. We will work closely with you and help you make the best decisions possible. We understand Indiana law and can help you navigate this process.

For skilled and knowledgeable representation, contact us at 812-725-8224 or complete our online form. We proudly serve communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana.