Reasons a Judge Will Deny Relocation — Or Approve It

A relocation changes the child's primary residence. Some states specify a distance at which a parent's move is considered a relocation. Others consider all moves relocations. Moving out of state or out of the country is definitely considered a relocation.

Custodial parents who want to relocate with their children must formally notify the other parent. If the nonmoving parent contests, you must prove in court that relocating is in the child's best interests.

Learning the reasons a judge will deny relocation allows you to build your case around reasons a judge will approve relocation.

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Reasons a judge will deny relocation

The following are some reasons a judge will deny your request for relocation.

The parent did not follow the procedure for relocation

Most states have procedures for relocating. If you don't follow them, you cannot move with your child.

Your local family court may have a specific petition for relocation, process the case as a custody order modification or only require you to send written notice to the other parent by a certain date.

The move would negatively impact the child's life

A judge will deny relocation if it would harm the child. For example, if the child doesn't have a stable home or access to education in the new location, the judge is not likely to allow the move. Also, if the child is already in a fragile mental or emotional state, a judge may not approve the relocation.

You've very recently divorced or separated

Trying to relocate shortly after a divorce or separation is one of the often overlooked reasons a judge will deny relocation. Judges don't like to change court orders soon after they are made. They will question why you didn't mention your intention to relocate during your case and consider the toll it may take on your child.

Your reasoning is selfish

If relocating will only benefit you, the judge will deny relocation. For example, moving with your child so you pay less child support only benefits you. The child's best interests will be the ultimate deciding factor in whether the judge will approve relocation.

You've been an uncooperative co-parent

If you've already shown signs of inappropriate co-parenting, the judge will deny your relocation. Distanced co-parenting is even harder than co-parenting near one another. Parents who've routinely denied their co-parent visits or failed to properly communicate with them are unlikely to have their requests for relocation approved.

You're doing it to punish the other parent

Unless the other parent presents a threat to you or your child, moving to keep your child away from them is not a valid reason. It's up to you as the moving parent to prove to the court that the other parent will continue to have meaningful visitation with your child.

It will hurt the child's relationship with the other parent

Preserving the child's relationship with both parents is generally in a child's best interests. The judge will consider your child's age, how often they see the other parent and the bond they have with the other parent when considering how the relocation may impact the parent-child relationship.

Good reasons to relocate a child

There are many reasons a judge will approve relocation, such as:

  • Moving for a higher-paying job
  • Moving in with a new spouse
  • Moving closer to extended family members
  • Moving so your child can receive medical care for an illness
  • Moving to protect yourself and your child from the other parent

Another one of the reasons a judge will approve relocation is that you've reached an agreement with the other parent (so long as the agreement is in the child's best interests).

You can negotiate the terms one-on-one with the other parent or hire a lawyer or alternative dispute resolution professional to help out.

The following articles can help you formulate ideas for your new plan:

In many locations, you must ask the court to modify your custody order and incorporate the new arrangements.

Gathering evidence to support your relocation

Insufficient evidence to support your case is among the reasons a judge will deny relocation. The Custody X Change app has many features that help you organize the evidence you need.

Use Custody X Change to support your case for relocation and get what's best for your child.

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