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How will relocating impact my custody agreement?

After you divorce, your life changes. You may want a fresh start or eventually you may want to remarry and move. Yet, if you are a parent, you worry about how relocating will impact your child custody agreement. Will your ex need to OK your relocation? How will your child custody arrangement change if you move?

Relocating and child custody

In Minnesota, one divorced parent can’t move out of state without consent of a child’s other parent, or without a court order. If you decide to move out of state, the court will evaluate changing your child custody arrangement based on the best interests of your child. In evaluating your child’s best interests, the court will review:

  • Your relationship with your child and your child’s relationship with their other parent, siblings or other significant people in your child’s life
  • The age of your child and how relocating will impact their physical, educational or emotional development
  • How feasible it will be to preserve your child’s relationship with their other parent if you relocate
  • What your child’s preference for custody is if you relocate (if your child is 8 or has the maturity to evaluate this change)
  • Whether relocating will allow your child a better quality of life, through better financial benefits, better educational opportunities or more emotional support
  • Why you are seeking the relocation or why your spouse opposes it
  • How relocation will impact your child’s safety and welfare
  • If you want to relocate to thwart your child’s relationship with their other parent (the court doesn’t view this favorably)

If you plan to relocate within the state, you still should consult your ex about your move. You should try to negotiate a new child custody agreement that works best for both of you. If you can’t agree on a new custody arrangement, you will have to seek a child custody modification. In reviewing your modification request, the court again will evaluate if the modification plan is in your child’s best interests.

Getting help negotiating child custody

You should consult an experienced family law attorney if you plan to relocate and want to officially modify your child custody agreement. You will need an advocate who can help show how your child will benefit from your move.

In the end, you likely will need to be flexible about your child custody arrangement if you relocate. You may need to allow your child to spend more time with your ex during summer and school breaks. You may need to agree to transport your child to visit their other parent. These compromises are common if you want your ex to approve your custody arrangement changes.