I married an army colonel after my divorce. He recently was re-assigned to another out-of-state base. Could my ex-husband stop us from taking the children to the new location?

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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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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Mary Martin

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Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2023Fact Checked

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.

Case Studies: Child Custody and Moving Out of State

Case Study 1: The Relocation Dispute

Sara and John divorced two years ago and have joint custody of their two children. Sara recently remarried an army colonel, who was reassigned to a different out-of-state base. Sara wants to take the children with her to the new location, but John opposes the idea.

Sara is concerned that her ex-husband might be able to stop them from moving. She consults with a lawyer to understand her rights and the legal process involved in obtaining permission to relocate with the children.

Case Study 2: The Unauthorized Move

Mark and Lisa share custody of their daughter, Emma. Mark decides to move to a different state without informing Lisa or obtaining her permission. Lisa discovers the move and realizes that Mark violated the custody arrangement.

Worried about Emma’s well-being and her own rights as a parent, Lisa consults with an attorney to understand the legal consequences Mark may face and the steps she can take to protect her and Emma’s interests.

Case Study 3: Seeking Court Approval

Laura and Michael divorced several years ago and have a custody agreement in place for their two children. Laura receives a job offer in another state that would significantly improve their financial situation and provide better opportunities for their children.

However, the custody agreement does not explicitly address relocation. Laura wants to move but knows she needs Michael’s permission or court approval. She decides to consult with a family law attorney to understand the process of seeking court approval and demonstrating that the move is in the best interests of the children.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

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...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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