In general, the law recognizes maintaining close relationships with both parents serves the best interests of children following divorce. This isn’t always easy. Custody arrangements, parenting plans, schedules, and continuing conflict between exes can all derail parenting time. And circumstances often change. But what happens when the custodial parent wants to relocate? Here’s what you need to know about relocation after divorce.
There are any number of reasons for relocation after divorce. People often move to remarry, for a new career or educational opportunity, 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 can be 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.
Relocation After Divorce
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, 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 other 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, then hearings, court appearances, and the like become necessary.
If You Want To Relocate
In Oregon, if you’re the custodial parent and intend to move more than 60 miles away, you must fill out and file 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.
Again, 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 the parenting plan.
Parenting plans typically set out a roadmap for who gets to see the kids when. This includes visitation, holiday schedules, how parents make decisions regarding the children, transportation, communication, and more. Often times, they even include provisions for parental relocation.
If The Other Parent Wants To Relocate
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 tell you the proper documents you need.
After receiving written notice, you can file a motion for custody or to modify the existing parenting plan. If you request a modification, you’ll have to demonstrate that relocation creates a significant change in circumstances since the previous order and that this change adversely impacts your ability to care for the children or negatively impacts your relationship.
How Court Decides On Relocation
When it come to cases involving minors, Oregon places the best interest of the children above other concerns. This includes 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, it falls to them to demonstrate how this benefits the children. And 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. How the move impacts the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent also figures into the final ruling. If relocation provides access to any specialized medical care a child needs, or the schools are better in a new area, or a new job provides significant material benefits, all of this factors into the decision.
In the end, the court can rule a number of ways on a potential relocation. 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 outcome reflects that.