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Indiana Child Custody and Relocation

Published in Family Law on November 22, 2021.

In today’s mobile economy, it’s common for one parent to get a job opportunity in another state.

However, while a new job can bring with it new benefits and opportunities, parental relocation, whether with the child or not, substantially impacts the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved.

Depending on the distance of the relocation, the move may impact transportation, where the child goes to school, the child’s extracurricular activities, and the non-relocating parent’s ability to have a day-to-day relationship with the child. 

What Is a Notice of Relocation?

Indiana Child Custody and Relocation

For these reasons, parental relocation cases are some of the most emotional and combative cases Indiana courts hear.

To address these concerns, Indiana law requires a parent to obtain permission from the court before moving with children. Indiana law requires the relocating parent to notify the other about the relocation.

Indiana law imposes strict time limits for providing notice. It is advisable to seek the help of an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.

A relocating individual is any person intending to change his or her personal residence and who is seeking or has a current Indiana child custody or parenting time order. Note that this now includes grandparents with visitation rights.

Under Indiana law, the relocating parent’s notice must contain:

  • The intended new residence, including the address and mailing address of the relocating individual (if different from the address);
  • All telephone numbers of the relocating individual;
  • The date of the proposed relocation;
  • A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child;
  • A statement that the relocating parent either does or does not believe a revision of the parenting plan or grandparent visitation is necessary;
  • A statement that the non-relocating parent has 20 days from service of the notice to file a response with the court;
  • A statement that the non-relocating party may request the court prevent the temporary or permanent relocation of the child;
  • A statement that the non-relocating parent (or grandparent) may file a petition to modify a custody order, parenting time, grandparent visitation order and/or child support order; and
  • A statement that all existing orders related to the child remain in effect until modified by the court.

If the non-relocating parent does not timely file a written objection to the relocation or fails to file a response, the relocating individual may relocate to the new residence

Do I Have to File a Notice of Relocation?

Notice of relocation does not have to be filed if the relocation has already been addressed by a prior court order or the relocation

(1) will actually decrease the distance between the residences of the parties; or

(2) will result in an increase of no more than 20 miles in the distance between the relocating parent’s residence and the non-relocating parent’s residence, and the relocation will not affect the child’s current school enrollment.

What If the Other Parent Objects to the Relocation?

Once the relocating party serves notice upon the other parent, that non-relocating parent has 20 days to file a response objecting to the relocation.

Either parent may then request a full evidentiary hearing on all issues relevant to the child and the proposed relocation.

The relocating parent has the burden to demonstrate to the court that they are acting in good faith and for a legitimate reason for the relocation.

Legitimate reasons might include career advancement, an increased standard of living, or educational opportunities not available where the child currently lives.

If the relocating parent meets their burden, the burden then shifts to the non-relocating parent to demonstrate why the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the child.

To decide whether the proposed relocation is in the child’s best interests, the court might consider:

  • Any hardship or excessive expense imposed on the non-relocating parent to exercise parenting time;
  • The feasibility of preserving the day-to-day relationship between the non-relocating parent and child;
  • Whether there exists an established pattern of conduct by the relocating individual, including actions to promote or hinder a non-relocating parent’s contact with the child;
  • The reasons provided by the relocating individual for seeking relocation;
  • The reasons provided by the non-relocating individual for objecting to the relocation;
  • Any other factors which affect the child’s best interest.

Rely on an Experienced Family Law Firm

Navigating Indiana child custody laws regarding moving out of state can be overwhelming if you go it alone. If you wait too long to respond to a proposed relocation, you may forfeit your right to object.

Similarly, if you fail to properly notify the other parent of your relocation, you may be held in contempt of court for custodial interference or even face jail time for kidnapping.

The experienced attorneys at Eskew Law LLC represent clients in a wide range of family law matters including litigation arising from a proposed parental relocation.

We founded our firm over a decade ago with the mission to provide effective and affordable legal services to vulnerable Hoosiers who might otherwise go unrepresented.

We pride ourselves on providing clients with individualized attention and creative solutions to complex and highly emotional conflicts. Don’t go it alone. Contact Eskew Law, LLC, today for a free consultation.

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