Many times at either the commencement of, during or after a Dissolution of Marriage action is completed, one parent wishes to move a substantial distance away from the other parent. This can create anything from an hours’ long commute for our children or, in the alternative, traveling to another state. Oftentimes, the custodial parent believes that he or she has the right to take the children with them because they are the primary custodial parent. Not true. Relocating children away from one parent will obviously, and severely, impact one parent’s ability to maintain a frequent and ongoing relationship with his or her child(ren). Even if you are the custodial parent, making the unilateral decision to move away with the minor child(ren), and doing so absent a move away order from the court, can likely result in the Court having jurisdiction over your matter entering an order wherein you are instructed to immediately return the children to the general location of where you just left.
Obtaining a move away order is necessary, even if the parties agree that one parent may relocate with the children. Obviously, visitation periods between the non-custodial parent and the children will be greatly impacted by a long distance move. Alternate weekend visitation and mid-week evening visits are no longer possible. Rather, the parents must now arrive at a visitation schedule that will give the non-custodial parent less visitation periods annually with each visitation period lasting for an increased duration of time. Examples include the non-custodial parent exercising visitation that may encompass the children’s entire summer break, or the majority of it, or an entire Holiday period, such as (Winter) Christmas Break on an alternating yearly basis. Of course, each case is different. In the best scenario, the parents will be able to agree upon a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent that will allow him/her increased visitation periods while still sharing the Holidays in a mutally-agreeable fashion. No matter how visitation between the non-custodial parent and the child(ren) is arrived at, a court order that includes a specific visitation schedule is needed to ensure that each parent continues to enjoy frequent and ongoing contact with the children. Court-ordered visitation also ensures each parent the ability to make plans in each of their lives while ensuring that the child(ren) will be shared on an ongoing basis.
Transportation costs associated with visitation should also be a part of any move away order. The court can enter specific orders setting forth how travel costs will be incurred by each party. In many cases, shared transportation costs assist in assuring the non-custodial parent of frequent and ongoing contact with the children.
Your children love both of you and want the assurance that both parents will remain active in their lives, no matter the distance between them. Having Court-ordered visitation orders in place prior to a long distance move gives children the assurance that their contact with each parent will not be adversely affected by a relocation. Your children can continue to make plans with each parent that they can get excited about and look forward to. I believe that some of our greatest memories are made from trips and/or outings we could not wait to attend with our parents. Move away visitation orders offer our children the ability to continue to make such great memories.
Bawden & Kochis have the knowledge and expertise to navigate you through a move away situation as pain free as possible. If you want to hear more about the latest information about moving away with minor children, please contact our office. The Law Office of Bawden and Kochis handles cases with family law issues regarding adoption, annulment, mediation, domestic violence, pensions, child custody, child and spousal support as well as pre-marital and post-marital agreements. Telephone (909)792-0222, or email us at [email protected]