Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 10, 2020

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When you have a legal custody arrangement in place, it generally indicates whether you may move with the children and if so, how far you may move. For example, it is common for a custody arrangement to mandate that a parent may not move with a child more than a set number of miles or minutes away. Regardless of whether your custody arrangement expressly limits your right to move or not, you will still need to inform your ex of the move and you will need to get permission from either your ex or the court to modify a custody agreement or to move with a child before you pack your bags. 

Moving Out of State and Child Custody

If you move out of state without getting your ex’s permission, then you could be considered in violation of parental kidnapping laws. This could result in you being subject to jail time and could result in sole custody being awarded to your ex. If your ex will not give permission for the move, you can go to court and get the court’s OK instead. To do this, you would need to convince the court that it is in the best interests of the child to relocate with you. For example, you can do this by showing the court that you will be able to provide a larger income, and thus a better life, for your child by making an out of state move.

It is also important to note, however, that moving to a different state with your child is likely to be considered a material change in circumstance. This means your ex could use your out-of-state move to argue that the custody agreement needs to be changed. S/he could argue that it is not in the best interests of the child to move away from the child’s community and family. If this argument succeeds, you will be barred from relocating with your child and your child may end up living with the other parent should you choose to move anyway. 

Getting Legal Help for Child Custody When Moving Out of State

If you wish to move out of state with your child, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you take the steps needed to make such a move legally, and avoid jeopardizing your custody of your kids.