Losing the parent-child connection is one of the biggest fears for those going through a divorce. Parents can address this by sharing joint custody of the children and drafting a parenting plan that enables both parents to remain active in their children’s lives. However, the day may come when a parent needs to take a new job in a different state or wants to move and take the children with them. Suddenly, that connection between the other parent and the children could be in jeopardy.
They can’t do it without approval
Divorce agreements will often have language regarding geographic limits on where the co-parents live. Any proposed modification of that or other details that makes the parenting plan impractical or impossible will need the other parent and the court’s approval. If a judge needs to rule, their primary goal is to ensure the well-being of the children. Important factors they weigh include:
- Why the parent wants to move
- Why the other parent opposes the move
- The relationships between the children and both parents
- Educational opportunities at the new residence
- The move’s effect upon the children
- Other unique issues
While each parent will argue their side of the case, courts are traditionally reluctant to alter custody arrangements or parenting plans. The courts also start with the presumption that it’s in the children’s best interest for both parents to be active in their lives.
Parents have rights
It is generally best for the parents to build consensus when proposing a modification. This often gives any proposed changes the best chance for success. Conversely, a parent who hasn’t forfeited their rights can fight to ensure that they can maintain that connection.