Parental Relocation And Asserting Parental Rights

Many parents find themselves contemplating relocation but are concerned about how a move will affect custody and visitation with their children. Reasons for relocation may include:

  • A desire to be closer to family
  • The acceptance of a better paying job
  • A desire to be in a better school district
  • Remarriage

If a custody order has already been entered in your case, review it to make sure you understand what you are prohibited from doing. It may be necessary to motion the court to modify your current custody order if the relocation will prevent you from complying with the order's terms.

Modification Requests Because Of Relocation

North Carolina law does not guarantee parents a right to relocate with their children. Rather, if a parent relocates the court will assess whether modifying a prior custody order is appropriate based on the test for custody modification.

As with any modification, the parent seeking to relocate will need to show a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child or children has occurred. Secondly, any change to the custody order must be in the best interest of the child or children.

The Modification Process And How It Works

Consider how the relocation will affect your child's relationship with the other parent. In cases where one parent moves across town or within the same county, it is difficult to show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. On the other hand, if one parent moves to another state and the distance between the parties is so great that it impacts the parents' ability to comply with the custody order, a judge is more likely to determine that the change in circumstances is substantial enough to meet this part of the test for custody modification.

The court must then determine whether the relocation is in the best interest of the children. Generally, when parents live a significant distance apart, joint physical custody is not practical. In these cases, one parent will typically have primary custody of the child or children while the other parent receives visitation.

When making determinations about custody and relocations, North Carolina courts will consider factors such as but not limited to:

  • The child or children's safety
  • Whether domestic violence has occurred
  • Each parent's relationship with the child or children
  • Each parent's ability to provide
  • The stability of each parent's home life

Contact Our Attorneys

At The Law Offices of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC, we know that life continues to evolve following separation and divorce. New chapters may involve new jobs or remarriage, which make it necessary to relocate. Whether you are the custodial parent seeking relocation or a noncustodial parent objecting to the other parent moving, we will fight for your rights and the well-being of your children.

To arrange an appointment with a lawyer regarding a custody modification, contact The Law Offices of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC, by email or call us at 828-848-8776 (toll free at 888-321-0494). All family law consultations are rated at $100 for a one hour consultation.