Margie: Well, a relocation after divorce, fairly simple if you don’t have children, but if you do, it can cause all kinds of issues. Jonathan Marks with the Marks Law Firm joining us this morning to talk a little bit more about relocation this morning. Good morning to you.
Jonathan: Good morning, Margie.
Margie: Yeah. So first off, I mean, you’re taking… One parent’s moving, so you’re taking one parent away from the child. So the courts are very strict about this.
Margie: What is the Missouri statute on relocation?
Jonathan: So basically we need to do, need to send a relocation notice, which is a certified letter, return receipt requested, at least 60 days prior to the proposed relocation. And within that letter, you need to state where you’re moving to, what your new address is going to be, the date of the relocation. And that along with it, if you’re gonna have a change within the visitation schedule, what that visitation schedule change is gonna be, how transportation’s gonna be affected. And then along with it, you also wanna state the reasons for the move so the other parent has an idea as to why you’re having to move outside the St. Louis area.
Margie: All right, if the other parent is against the relocation, what must they do at this point?
Jonathan: Yeah. So, very strict. They need to make sure that they file what’s called a motion and affidavit to prevent relocation with the court system within a 30-day time period from the date that they sign for the certified letter of the relocating parent. And then once that occurs, the motion itself is supposed to set forth the reasons as to why they believe that the move is not in the best interest of the child.
Not so much as to their own personal belief, but exactly as to what the relationship between the parent and the child, how it would be damaged, and why it would no longer be in the same manner it is today, especially if you’re a joint custodian and exercising significant and meaningful time with your child.
Margie: Yeah, and with that said, there was recently a case here in Missouri that really showed how strict the court is about following this statute to the tee.
Jonathan: Correct. So basically what happened in that particular case, there were a number of problems. The mother in this case wanted to relocate just from Columbia to St. Louis, and within it, she sent original notice first by email and then by certified letter and then by regular mail, but she did it with only 20 days prior to the proposed move. And as a result of it, it ended up within the court system and an appellate opinion that came down just about a week ago stated that, “The failure to do that within 60 days prior to the proposed move was an absolute failure to the relocation.”
So looking at it is very important. When you’re a parent going through the relocation process, you put some thought into it. If you know that you’re gonna be listing your home for sale, don’t wait till the last minute. If you’re lucky enough to have your home be sold within the first couple of days or right when it goes on the market, you’re gonna put yourself in a trick bag that you’re not gonna be able to comply with that statutory notice.
Margie: I mean, the docket’s full, so this could take some time.
Jonathan: Correct. And the assuming you did fall into that circumstance where you couldn’t comply with the 60-day notice, you’re going to have to go directly to the court system and request for leave. So knowing that these things are gonna happen, you know, forethought needs to be really put into the situation and know, “What am I doing,” and, “How do I make sure that I’m complying with the statutes so that I have the ability to relocate or possibly relocate and have my children go with me?”
If you do not comply with the statute, you can expect that the court is going to least bring your kids back. You may be somewhere else, but your kids are coming back to the other parent in the St. Louis area.
Margie: All right, attorney Jonathan Marks. Thanks so much for your time this morning. I appreciate it.
Jonathan: My pleasure.
Margie: For more information on the Marks Law Firm and relocation, head to the STLMoms tab.