Can I Move Out of State With My Child? How Far?

Many states prohibit a parent from moving out of state with their child without permission from the nonmoving parent or the court. Your custody agreement or custody order may put restrictions on how far you can move as well.

Depending on how far you're moving, your state may have a procedure for requesting to move with your child. Not following the procedure is one of the common reasons judges deny relocation requests.

Moving out of state impacts co-parenting and the child's relationship with the nonmoving parent. You may face legal consequences if you take the child out of state without permission.

Find out what you need to do to begin relocation procedures and how your type of custody may impact your ability to move.

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Do I need permission to move out of state with my child?

Yes. Almost every state requires a parent who wants to move across state lines with their child to get permission from the other parent or the court before moving.

States like Alabama, New Jersey and Louisiana require parents to get permission before moving out of state regardless of the distance.

There are states that only require permission if the move is beyond a certain distance. For example, parents in Florida who wish to move 50 or more miles from their current residence must get approval from the court or the other parent before moving. Some states, like Illinois, have stricter distance requirements (25 miles).

The parent who wants to move must provide written notice to the other parent. If the other parent approves, they can sign the notice for you to file with the court. Otherwise, they can file an objection and the court will schedule a hearing where a judge will decide whether the move can happen.

How far can a parent move with joint custody?

With joint custody, parents spend near-equal time with their children. How far you're allowed to move depends on the details of your custody order and your state's relocation laws.

Those with 50/50 custody may be able to move out of state with their child, but getting approval from their co-parent or the judge can tricky. Since the child is used to seeing both parents often, a move out of state has the potential to disrupt the child's life. Plus, it may have a negative impact on the child's relationship with the nonmoving parent.

Propose a long-distance schedule that keeps the child in regular contact with the nonmoving parent, whether it's in-person or remotely. If you go to the court for approval, you'll have to prove there's an opportunity in the other state that will greatly improve your child's life, like a higher-paying job for you or a better school for your child.

How far can a parent move with full custody?

Full custody, also called sole custody, places the child in one parent's care for the majority of the time. How far you're allowed to move depends on the details of your custody order and your state's relocation laws.

Typically, a full custodial parent moving out of state has a better chance of getting the court's approval than a parent with joint custody. The judge may compare the time the nonmoving parent spends with the child now to how much time they could spend with the child after the move. It's likely the judge will deny relocation if the time is significantly reduced.

How far can a noncustodial parent move?

There are no limits on how far a parent can move on their own. Generally, a noncustodial parent can move without notice or permission, so long as their court order does not say otherwise and they are not taking the child with them.

A noncustodial parent moving out of state may get less visitation time. The farther away you move, the more difficult it will be to see your child frequently. The court won't require the custodial parent to overextend themselves or put stress on the child to ensure you maintain regular visitation.

The noncustodial parent should propose a long-distance parenting plan so they can remain an active part of their child's life. If frequent visitation isn't workable, it's common for noncustodial parents who move out of state to get the children during summer vacation and other long school breaks.

Moving out of state with a child and no custody agreement

When there's no custody agreement or order, a move out of state with your child is more complicated.

Married parents have joint custodial rights. If only one parent wants to move out of state with their children, they would need to get a court order granting them permission.

If you're unmarried without a custody agreement, in most states only the mother has custodial rights and, thus, can move anywhere she wants with the child. However, if the father establishes himself as the child's legal parent, the mother generally needs to get permission.

If you leave the state when there's no order or agreement, the state will continue to have jurisdiction over your child for some time. The other parent can start a custody case against you. In some states, like Colorado, a judge can order the moving parent to return the child while the case is in progress.

Regardless of marital status, it's always best to get legal advice before moving out of state with your child. Moving out of state may backfire in court as the other parent can claim you're trying to ruin their relationship with the child.

Planning ahead

Set rules for moving in your parenting plan so you don't have to wonder whether you can move out of state with your child.

The Custody X Change parenting plan template has you covered with provisions for moving. You can specify boundaries for moving with the child and how much notice the moving parent must give. Plus, you can create custom provisions.

Your provisions and parenting schedules will be organized into a court-ready parenting plan.

It's just one of the ways Custody X Change helps you protect your child and your custodial rights.

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