Understanding Your Rights: Child Removal or Relocation
Educational opportunities, remarrying, or moving closer to family and friends are just a few reasons that might prompt your former spouse to want to relocate. And if you have shared custody of your child or children, you or your co-parent might have to make an extremely tough decision should the topic of a relocation come up and related needs, arise.
Child Removal or Relocation cases can be a long, uphill battle with expected emotions and unexpected consequences and outcomes for both parties. Having legal power at your disposal and a Family Lawyer with The Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers also will give you the needed empathy, understanding, and steady and strong representation to represent the affected party.
Can My Spouse Move Out-of-State with My Child?
Without your former spouse and the legal system's approval, your child cannot be relocated. As further context from the State of Massachusetts:
“The removal law requires getting permission if the child was born in Massachusetts or has lived in Massachusetts for five years, if the child is not old enough to give his or her consent, and if a probate and family court has jurisdiction (that is, authority) to make a custody decision about that particular child. The court has jurisdiction if you are currently involved in any case concerning the child. Such cases include divorce, paternity, and support cases. The court also may have jurisdiction if you were involved in such a case in the past.”
As a case is presented to a judge, the parent requesting a Child Removal or Relocation will need to present and prove that the move is in the child's best interest, especially relative to your former spouse in that the decision cannot be related to preventing the other parent from seeing [your child or children]. In other words, the basis for the move cannot be contemptuous toward or against the other parent.
Not one of these factors, but as a group, will be considered by a judge when making a decision under Massachusetts law:
- Will the child's quality of life be improved?
- Will the custodial parent's quality of life be improved?
- Possible ramifications of reducing or eliminating the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent
- Effect of moving, including emotional, physical or developmental needs of the child
Can My Former Spouse Take my Child without Approval?
Be mindful that if you or your former spouse make any reactive decisions, such as move out-of-state without going through the proper legal channels, a judge may deny your relocation request or in a worst-case scenario, he or she might decide who your child should live with moving forward, even if you are the custodial parent and believe to have “good reason” for your actions.
If you have reason to believe that your former significant other might make a very reactive, and possibly harmful, decision to relocate your child without your approval, or worse yet, your knowledge, it's important that you reach out to your Family Law attorney and file a proper complaint. Your attorney can help you put your child's name on the Do Not Depart list, which prevents the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from allowing your child through security. From here, your attorney will help the judge see and understand the critical reasons why actions and behaviors, among other factors, warrant an order.
How do I Handle a Relocation Request?
If you're considering a move out-of-state that might impact your child custody arrangement or you need representation to prevent this, you'll no doubt need a Family Lawyer at your side to ensure the best outcome for you and your child or children. With The Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers, we understand you and your unique situation rather than sell you.
Not sure where to start? Share your situation and get some needed answers by scheduling a no-strings-attached, free consultation, today: 978-851-2291. We're ready to help.
The Law Offices of Matthew T. Desrochers provides services to the following counties—Essex, Suffolk and Middlesex.