The news is jarring. Your former spouse, who has primary custody of your children, intends to relocate out of state. And with such a move, your former spouse also intends to take your children away. You oppose this decision because your already limited time with your children will shrink even more.

Typically, the parent with primary custody of the children requires approval from either the court or the other parent before moving out of state.  On top of that, the relocating parent must prove that the out-of-state move remains in the child’s best interests. That best-interests argument also can be made by the non-relocating parent. Will the move disrupt the children’s lives? If so, the non-relocating parent has a legitimate legal argument and could secure primary custody.

Is relocation in the best interests of the children?

A relocation can come about for many reasons. Perhaps there was a remarriage, job transfer, a better place where one could meet their financial needs or having a nearby family support system. According to a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, 10% of custodial parents relocated with their children within a year after divorce. After two years, 17% sought to relocate.

Typically, courts do not look fondly upon the relocation of one of the parents because the it will likely have detrimental effects on the children. A court reviews and weighs many factors of a pending parental relocation. If the judge determines such a move will have an overwhelmingly negative effect on the children, the court could rule against this option.

Such a relocation affects so many lives. Both parents love and want to be with their children. And, perhaps, the children do not favor the move, either. In the latter scenario, the court may allow the child to choose which parent to live with.