Often referred to as a “move-away case”, parents with physical custody will often want to relocate after the separation from the other parent, and sometimes this relocation can take them out of the same town, or sometimes out of the same state, and with them goes the child as well. Even if they do not have physical custody, parents at this stage can request that a judge bar this move from being allowed, and these custody related disputes are often the lengthiest.
If the court has been involved in the past, any future action that would impact their ruling (in this case, a custody arrangement) must be done with their explicit permission. The parent that was granted physical custody must go to the court and request approval for them to be legally allowed to move. This is because the relocation of the parent, and by association the child, may not be in the best interest of the child, which is the primary concern of the judge when making custody and child related decisions. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the other parent is not consulted at all in the scenario. If the parents agree on the relocation of the parent and child, then they can enter into an agreement prior to meeting with the judge. When the parents can agree to an out-of-state move, they will sign a written stipulation, which can be turned into a court order upon review, if a judge approves of it.
There can be sanctions against the parent that moves the child without the judge’s consent, ranging from fines, jail time, or even something as severe as an altering of the custody arrangement that would benefit the other parent. Because the move will disrupt the normal circumstances of the child’s everyday life, the judge will have to consider how the move might benefit the child in the wake of this disruption to their life. Ultimately, if you are a parent with sole physical custody, it would be unwise to risk moving with the child without first notifying the court of your intention and requesting permission, regardless of how the child’s other parent feels about the situation.