Is It Possible to Relocate With Children After a Divorce?
Oct. 26, 2022
For parents contemplating divorce or going through one, their children are usually their greatest concern. The adults have decided to go their separate ways and start new lives. Naturally, their children must begin new lives as well. Life as they have known it, perhaps for their entire existence, will never be the same.
Maybe they will simply divide their time between their parents’ homes, in the same neighborhood or nearby. That would cause as little disruption as possible to the lives of everyone in the family, but what if a parent moving on from the marriage wants to move the children far away?
I know that the time parents have to spend with their children is even more precious after divorce. Moves that significantly alter parenting time can be emotional and contentious. That is why I have compassion for my parent clients as well as their children. Rundberg Law, LLC represents family law clients in Overland Park and throughout Johnson County, Kansas, and in the surrounding areas, including clients in Missouri.
Are Parents in Kansas and Missouri Permitted to Relocate With Their Children?
As parents begin new lives, it is not uncommon for one or both to want to relocate far enough away that it will affect parenting time. Therefore, the law accommodates relocating with children after divorce. If the parents can agree to the relocation and to making the necessary revisions to the existing child custody order and parenting plan, they need only ask the court to approve any changes. If they cannot agree, they will need to return to court, and the judge will decide.
Both Kansas and Missouri enforce notification requirements for the parent wishing to relocate the children’s primary residence by moving out of the area or even to take the children out of state or further for 90 days or longer. Notification of intent to relocate must be in the form of a registered letter sent to the other parent within 30 days of the intended relocation date in Kansas and within 60 days in advance in Missouri.
The letters must contain certain information, such as the planned relocation date, address, telephone number, the reasons for the relocation, and proposed changes to the parenting plan that would accommodate the move.
If the non-relocating parent objects, they have 30 days to file a motion with the court opposing the move. The court will schedule a hearing and listen to evidence presented by both parties. However, the burden of proving the move is in the best interests of the children rests with the parent who wants to relocate them.
Failure to provide timely notification may give the court reason to order a return of the children. Moreover, because the relocation constitutes a material change in circumstances, the court could modify the divorce decree’s custody agreement.
If you want to relocate with your children, or if you want to contest relocation, you should work with an experienced child custody lawyer to ensure you comply with the law. Otherwise, you risk the ire of the court.
What Factors Will the Court Consider?
As is always the case, the court is motivated by the best interests of the children. As such, the judge will consider the wishes of the children regarding custody and the location of their primary residence, how the move will affect the children’s stability, education, and relationships with other siblings, and how they will likely adjust. The court also considers the willingness of each parent to preserve the relationships between both parents and the children.
What Happens to Parenting Time for the Noncustodial Parent?
Any significant move, such as a move out of the area, will impact the existing parenting time arrangement. The move will likely precipitate major changes. For example, instead of having the children one night during the week and every other weekend, the noncustodial parent may need to spend longer periods of time with the children.
The relocating parent must be accommodating to the noncustodial parent, and the court will consider any new financial burden the move places on the noncustodial parent. Moreover, any significant changes to the parenting plan may affect the child support order as well.
Knowledgeable Advocacy: Rundberg Law, LLC
A parent’s wish to relocate children after divorce is not necessarily unreasonable. Divorced parents are not forced to put some opportunities on hold until the children all become adults. Striking the delicate balance between what is best for the children as well as the parents requires working with a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney.
No matter where you are in the divorce process or the terms of an existing child custody agreement, if you or the other parent is considering relocation, talk to Rundberg Law, LLC in Overland Park, Kansas, today.