Child Custody & Relocation
Because your child is involved, if either you or your former spouse wants to move to another part of the city or to the other side of the world, in Missouri there are a set of statutes to follow so that the child isn’t harmed by the move.
A party seeking to relocate must send via certified mail notice at least sixty days in advance of the proposed relocation, and the notice must include several components, including the proposed date of relocation, the proposed new address and phone number, the reasons for the proposed move, and a proposed new schedule of physical custody.
Once a party receives a relocation notice, that party cannot just sit back and wait; doing so will result in allowing the relocation to proceed. If a party wishes to prevent relocation, that party must file a Motion and Affidavit to Prevent Relocation within thirty days of the receipt of the relocation notice. This is a strictly enforced deadline. After the filing of the Motion and Affidavit, the party seeking relocation has fourteen days to file a response, and the matter will be set for a hearing before the court.
A trial court can only grant relocation if it finds it was made in good faith and is in the best interests of the child. While these criteria seem a bit ambiguous, and do give the trial court a great deal of discretion, they have more specific meaning. If a relocation isn’t made in Good faith, it simply means acting with an improper motive, usually with the intent to deprive the other parent of frequent and meaningful contact with the child. But of course, the Best Interests Standard requires the court to apply the same factors as in any custody decision.
Relocation cases usually involve thorough examination of the financial basis of the proposed move, the attempt by the relocating parent to find suitable employment without relocating, and the impact on the children of changing schools and communities. Making a successful case on either side of the relocation issue requires presentation of extensive evidence, and can require retention of experts and even the appointment of a guardian ad litem. Consequently, relocation cases are complex and require the skill of an experienced attorney.