can a primary move away with your kids?

Can A Custodial Parent Relocate After Divorce?

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Co-parenting after divorce is difficult. Custody arrangements, parenting plans, schedules, and continuing conflict between exes all impact parenting time. And circumstances often change. What if one parent plans to move with a child? What can you do about potential relocation after divorce?

In general, the law recognizes maintaining close relationships with both parents serves the best interests of children following divorce. This isn’t always easy. Especially in cases when one parent wants to move.

Here’s what you need to know about relocation after divorce.

What if the Primary Parent Wants to Relocate?

There are a number of reasons for relocation after divorce.

People often move to remarry, for new career or educational opportunities, to be near family, or simply to get away and start fresh.

Because this impacts parents and children, and there are so many moving parts, relocation after divorce gets complicated.

In Oregon, while you must follow the proper procedure and jump through legal hoops, this process is much simpler than in our neighbors to the north and south, Washington and California.

The laws also generally favor a child remaining in Oregon and are more favorable for non-custodial parents than elsewhere.

Related Reading: Do Courts Ever Award Split Custody?

Notice of Intent to Relocate Oregon

In Oregon, the custodial parent can relocate within 60 miles of the other parent without notification ahead of time. No matter the distance, however, the parents must continue to honor the court-ordered parenting agreement.

For moves of greater distances, the state statute has a notice of intent to relocate provision. Instead of lengthy hearings, the custodial parent must simply provide reasonable written notice to both the other parent and the court.

This provides the non-custodial parent with ample time to take action if they have issues with the proposed move. If this is the case, and if there are objections, hearings, court appearances, and the like ultimately become necessary.

Related Reading: Child Custody Modifications After the Final Judgement

Relocation After Divorce

In Oregon, if you’re the custodial parent and intend to move more than 60 miles away, you must give notice of intent to relocate.

Primarily, this involves filling out and filing a Notice of Change of Address Pursuant to ORS 107.159 form. This includes all the pertinent information like where, when, and who it involves.

After filing the forms, you need to serve your former spouse.

  • You must do this early enough to provide reasonable notice to the non-custodial parent.
  • Should the other party object, you must demonstrate why this move represents the child’s best interests.
  • You need to show how this change of circumstances benefits your kids.
  • No matter the distance, you must also continue to comply with any court-ordered parenting arrangement.
  • If you won’t be able to do so, you must take the necessary steps to modify said parenting plan.

Parenting plans typically set out a roadmap for who gets to see the kids and when. They deal with visitation, holiday schedules, how parents make child-rearing decisions, transportation, communication, and more. Oftentimes, they already include provisions for parental relocation.

Related Reading: Child Custody After Divorce

Can You Stop The Primary Parent From Relocating?

If you object to your ex moving away with your child, you’ll have to take legal action.

In this situation, it’s likely in your best interest to hire a child custody attorney. An experienced professional will point you in the right direction, lay out your parental rights, and guide you through the process.

After receiving the other party’s notice of intent to relocate, you can file a motion for custody or to modify the existing parenting plan.

If you request a modification, you’ll have to demonstrate:

  • Relocation creates a significant change in circumstances since the previous order, and;
  • This change adversely impacts your ability to care for the children or negatively impacts your relationship.

Related Reading: Best Interests of the Child

How Court Decides On Relocation After Divorce

When it comes to cases involving minors, Oregon places the best interest of the children above other concerns. This includes cases of potential relocation.

The noncustodial parent can file a petition to stop the move. On the other hand, the custodial parent can file a petition asking a judge to allow relocation. But ultimately the move must benefit the child, not just the parent.

Whichever parent files the petition and notice of intent to relocate, it falls to them to demonstrate how this is best for the children.

In either case, the judge takes into account a number of factors when ruling on the case.

The reason for the move plays into the court’s decision.

Perhaps you plan to relocate to be near family and a broad support system. If relocation after divorce provides access to any specialized medical care a child needs, the schools are better in a new area, or a new job provides significant material benefits, all of these factor into the decision.

The court can rule on relocation in a number of ways:

  • First, they can allow the move.
  • They can also order the custodial parent to remain where they live.
  • Or they can allow the parent to move but award primary guardianship to the non-custodial parent.

Ultimately, whether or not the court allows relocation depends on the specifics of your case. Every situation is going to be different due to its unique set of variables, and the various outcomes reflect that.

Related Reading: Do Grandparents Have Third-Pary Child Custody Rights?

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