Am I allowed to move to a new city, county, or state with my child after divorce?

If you have made the decision to get a divorce, one of your main concerns may be the custody of your children.  Sometimes the decision of divorce is made harder when children are involved, because it is difficult to imagine your child not being with you all of the time.  This is also a concern of unmarried parents. 

After a divorce, changes happen.  Some of those changes might include relocation.  Is it true that the judge might not allow relocation with the child?  In Arkansas, the custodial parent’s right to relocate with that child is often honored; however, there are times when the non-custodial parent may refute that decision by trying to show the Court that the relocation of the child will not be a good choice. The burden of proof that this move is not in the best interest of the child lies on the non-custodial parent.  A judge’s decision will always be based on what is best for that child. There are many factors that a judge may use to determine if relocation will be a positive experience for that child. A few of these factors include:

·What are the reasons for the relocation?

·What are the educational resources available for the child at the new location?

·What are the medical resources available for the child at the new location?

·How does this relocation affect the child’s visitation with the non-custodial parent?

·How will this relocation affect the child’s relationships with family and friends?

·What are the child’s thoughts about relocating?

·What is the distance between the old and new home?

·Will the relocation improve the child’s quality of life?

The custodial parent should communicate the decision to relocate with the non-custodial parent as soon as the decision is made.  It is a good idea to already have a workable plan in place to present to the non-custodial parent including possible schools, activities, and suggestions on travel arrangements to meet visitation timelines. 

In the case of parents having joint custody, the Court may apply the same rules as a request for a change of custody.  This is a bit more complicated. While each family situation is unique and may produce different results, the thing to remember is that the judge will always make the decision based on the quality of life that the child will have with this relocation.

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