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How does relocation affect child custody?

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Child Custody
Post Author Image This article was reviewed and approved for publication by Attorney Charlotte Christian.

moving boxes for relocation

There may come a time when you want to move with your children. However, it’s not as simple as choosing a new home and moving away. Read The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates’s blog to learn how relocation affects child custody.  

What is relocation?

Relocation is a simple term that refers to the action of moving to a new place and establishing your home or business there. Regarding moving with your children, relocating would refer to wherever you and your children move.

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How does relocation affect child custody?

When looking at how relocation would affect your child custody orders, it’s critical to know Alabama’s laws. Under the Alabama Relocation Act, you must take additional steps before moving to a new place.

Before diving into the act’s requirements, let’s define some terms. A custodial parent is a person who has primary custody of the child. In contrast, a noncustodial parent refers to a person who does not have primary custody. Child custody arrangements can vary, so it’s crucial to learn how relocation will affect your plans.  

The Alabama Relocation Act

This act is also called the Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act. It serves to protect a child’s relationship with both of their parents. Remember that you must comply with every part of the act to relocate successfully. 

First, you will need to notify the noncustodial parent by mail if you’re looking to move more than sixty miles away, and you must do it at least 45 days before you move. If you learn about the move in less than 45 days, you will need to notify the other parent within ten days.

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Notice Requirements

When you notify your child’s other parent of your relocation, you will need to include a few different pieces of information. You must inform them of your move, when you’re moving, the reason for the move, and a proposal for a new visitation agreement.

The notice should include your new address and phone number, if it changed, in addition to the name and contact information of your child’s new school. You must also let the noncustodial parent know they have thirty days to object to the move, or else it will be permitted.

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Relocation Objections

Sometimes, the other parent may object to your move. Once you’ve notified them, they have thirty days to file an objection. After filing the objection, the court will schedule a hearing, and both parents must appear in court to testify. You can’t relocate while awaiting the hearing or while it occurs.

During the hearing, the court must determine how the move affects your child’s wellbeing. Remember that the court presumes that the move will negatively affect your child, so you will need to prove otherwise. If you can convince them that the move is in the child’s best interest, then the noncustodial parent will need to prove its detriment. 

When determining your child’s wellbeing, there are a few different factors that the court will consider. Here are a few points that will influence the court’s decision:

  • Your child’s needs
  • How involved your child is with their parents and siblings
  • Whether the noncustodial parent exercised visitation 
  • How travel time affects visitation 
  • The reason for the move
  • Why the noncustodial parent opposes the move
  • How the move will impact your child’s educational and emotional development
  • The stability of each parent
  • If the new residence has any visitation restrictions
  • Your child’s preference, if they are old enough and mature enough to make a decision

If the judge rules in favor of the noncustodial parent, your child custody arrangement could be altered. It’s critical to speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate the process.

Military Relocation

The Alabama Relocation Act does not have any exemptions for servicemembers. While several provisions protect a military member’s custody rights, the court may not approve of you relocating with your child if you are going on active duty. 

If you are in the military and have custody of your child, you may need to work with the noncustodial parent to prepare for your deployment. You should also plan to speak with an attorney who focuses on military divorces and child custody arrangements.

Speak to a Professional

While relocation can provide a fresh start, it is critical that you correctly notify the noncustodial parent of your move. You may also benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney who can help you make the best decision possible.   

An experienced, empathetic family law attorney can help you work through the process and help you avoid common mistakes. Here at The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we will fight for what you want and take care of what you need. 

Getting a divorce can be daunting, but we will help you take the next step in building a better future. Connect with us online or call us at (256) 859-7277. Move to a brighter future with clarity and confidence.  

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