Published in Family Law on October 1, 2015.
Relocating When There Is A Custody Order
From the time a custody order is issued until the child is emancipated, a parent must keep the court and the opposing party aware of their home address. This means that anytime you want to relocate when there is a custody order, you must file notice with the Court. Indiana Code lays out specific requirements for this notice and failure to comply with the requirements will result in insufficient notice, possibly resulting in court sanctions. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the requirements and, if possible, have an experience family law attorney draft the notice and attend any hearings on the notice with you.
Who Must File?
Notice of relocation must be filed be any parent who is relocating, whether custodial or noncustodial. More importantly, it must be filed even when you are simply moving to the next house over. You must file the notice if you plan to relocate anywhere.
When and Where Must You File?
The relocating parent must file the notice in the court that issued the custody or parenting time order or a court with jurisdiction over the proceedings. This must be filed 90 days before the parent actually relocates.
What Must the Notice Contain?
The Notice you file with the court must state the following:
- Where you are moving, include the address and the telephone number;
- When you are moving;
- Why you are moving; and
- A proposal for a new parenting time plan;
It is important to remember that the relocating parent has the burden to show that the move is being made in good faith. Once this burden is met, it shifts to the nonrelocating parent to show that the relocation is not in the best interest of the child.
What Can The Court Do?
If the nonrelocating party properly files an objection to the relocation and request for a hearing, the court must set a hearing to review and modify the previous custody and support orders if it is appropriate. In order to determine the appropriateness of such a modification, the court must take into account the following:
- The distance involved;
- The hardship and expense to exercise parenting time;
- The feasibility of preserving the parent/child relationship;
- Any pattern of the relocating parent to thwart or promote parenting time;
- The reasons given for relocating;
- The reasons for objecting to the relocations; and
- All other factors used to determine the best interest of the child.
If the court determines that the relocation is not in the child’s best interest, the court may grant a temporary order restraining the relocation or a change of custody.