Can one parent relocate with the children?

Remember the Southwest Airlines commercials where the flight attendant would announce “You are now free to move about the country”? 

Unless your divorce or custody agreement specifically allows you to relocate with the children, you are free to move away, but your children may not be.

People relocate for a variety of reasons: a new career opportunity, to be near extended family or a new partner, or just to start over in a new location. However, after divorce, relocating a child away from their other parent is a situation the Connecticut Family Court takes very seriously, under the guidelines of Connecticut statute 46b-56d. Factors the Court will consider in allowing such a move include the purpose for the move, if relocating reasonably suits that purpose, and if it is in the best interests of the child. Further, the Court is also concerned with how that move will impact the current parenting plan, how the child’s life would be enhanced by the move, and how it will affect and accommodate the child’s relationship with the parent who would remain in Connecticut. Will that parent still be able to have regular and significant visitation time with the child? If travel costs associated with the other parent having visitation time with the child are exorbitant, this can affect child support calculations as well.

If your child’s other parent is planning to leave the state with your child and you do not want your child to move away from you, call a family law attorney immediately. Your chances of coming to a more agreeable arrangement are better when the child is still in Connecticut. An experienced family lawyer can file a motion for an emergency hearing that the court will hear immediately to stop the relocation of the child until an agreement is reached and a new parenting and custody plan, memorializing that agreement, is ordered. If the other parent then moves with the child against the court order, you have some recourse.

If your child’s other parent has already left the state with your child, it can be challenging to bring them back, and the longer you wait, the more difficult it will become. Call an experienced family lawyer immediately to see what legal remedies may be available to you.

If you are the parent who wishes to relocate, know that your motion for relocation will be subject to multiple hearings over many months. In the past, the first hearing of this kind would be scheduled for two or three weeks from the filing date. However, with the growing court backlog due to Covid, cases are not being heard for two to three months. The process took up to six months prior to the pandemic; with the backlog it could now take up to a year.

We have worked with families where one parent wanted to relocate to accept a higher-paying job near extended family, and the other parent was willing to relocate as well and work remotely. Other co-parents have successfully negotiated entirely new parenting plans and visitation schedules through non-adversarial methods, such as mediation.

Every case is different, and every family’s circumstances are different. That’s why it is important to consult with a lawyer who focuses their practice on Family Law & Divorce to help you navigate challenging situations such as relocation. We can help, call our office today: 860-677-5885.