Creve Coeur & O'Fallon, MO Relocation Attorneys

After a court enters a custody judgment, it often happens that one party needs to relocate, usually for employment or remarriage.  Sometimes the relocation is within the same county, sometimes thousands of miles away.  How does the court handle relocation?  Is it difficult?  Is it automatic? How do the children factor into the process?  Can a court keep a parent from moving?

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Child Custody & Relocation

Modification of Custody

In Missouri, relocation is governed by statute.  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.

Child Custody, Visitation, and Parental Relocation

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.  Good faith simply means acting with an improper motive, usually with the intent to deprive the other parent of frequent and meaningful contact with the child.  And the best interests standard requires the court to apply the same factors in any custody decision:  the wishes of the parents; the need to assure a continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and which parent would be more likely to facilitate that relationship; the interaction of the child with parents, siblings and other family members; which parent would more likely allow frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent; the child’s adjustment to home, school and community; the mental and physical health of both parents, including any issues of domestic violence; the intention of either parent to relocate; and the wishes of the child, if the child is sufficiently mature to express such wishes.

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.

Much can be at stake in a relocation case.  You may find yourself unable to move for an excellent job opportunity, or find yourself suddenly spending significantly less time with your child in a completely new schedule of custody.  Only a family law attorney with extensive experience handling relocation cases can advise you as to the possible outcomes in your case and assist you in reaching the most favorable of those outcomes.

Getting Help

At The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C, we have over fifty years of combined experience handling family law matters. We help individuals understand their rights with regard to all issues, including relocations.  We have handled hundreds of trials before family court judges; if you choose The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., you will have the benefit of a family law attorney unafraid to go to court, advocate on your behalf and fully present your case.

Time to Act

Time is of the essence. As soon as you select The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. to represent you, we will immediately put our considerable experience and resources to work on your case. The sooner we can review the necessary information, the sooner we can formulate a strategy for your unique circumstances, helping to ensure the best possible outcome.

Contact The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C.

Send us an email or call us at 314-993-6300 for an initial consultation with one of our experienced Creve Coeur family law attorneys.

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