What are my rights if my ex-wife wants to move out-of-state with our child?
I am in the process of a divorce. My soon to be ex-wife is planning on moving from KY to W Va to live with her new boyfriend. What are my rights in regards to her moving my daughter out-of-state without my permission?
You will need to go to court to request custody or visitation. Without a court order on this she will be free to take the child out-of-state. If she does and establishes residency there you will have virtually no chance of getting her to move back. If you go to court now before she moves (or go after she moves but before residency is established) you have a greater chance of keeping your child close by.
Once you have a custody agreement, your wife will need to get the court's permission to move. A move without such permission could mean that she is in contempt of a court and be charged with parental kidnapping. Additionally, the burden is on the party seeking to move and the court will look at the best interests of the child in making such a determination. Each petition will be reviewed by the court on a case-by-case basis. There are numerous factors the court must consider in determining whether removal is appropriate.
The factors in determining if such a move will be allowed include, but are not limited to:
- The motivations of the parent desiring the relocation.
- The motivation of the parent opposing the move.
- The advantages of relocation in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the minor child.
- Any disadvantages of relocation on the minor child.
- The likelihood that a reasonable visitation schedule can be arranged which will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent.
- A chance to bond with extended family members.
- The likelihood that the parent desiring the move will comply with visitation orders after they have relocated to another state.
The weight given to each unique factor is different in each case. Again, the burden is on the party seeking to remove the child out-of-state; they must demonstrate that the removal is in the best interest of the child.
A parent who wishes to relocate because of a job, new spouse, or to care for sick relatives will have a stronger case than a parent who simply wants to move away from the non-custodial parent.