According to legal experts, the best interests of a child are the most significant factors considered when a judge is determining whether a parent should be allowed to relocate after a divorce or separation. In fact, parental mobility is one of the most prevalent issues for modern-day family law firms. This hot-button topic sparks much debate, but the final verdict is always the same: a respectable balance between the wishes of the parents, the children and the courts must be achieved.
Separated parents are often charged with finding creative ways to provide for their children who suddenly have two homes. This shift in dynamic can make family time, finances, and careers demands a lot more challenging for all parties involved. As such, the typically complex situation is difficult for courts to address despite it being among the most litigated.
However, citizens having the freedom to move about the county, state or country at will is an important fundamental right to uphold. In a family law context, though, it becomes something of a legal matter. Simply put: because there are children involved, parties may be restricted from moving too far away from the other parent. Usually, problems with this only arise when the custodial parent wants to relocate.
Hiring a family law attorney to help is vital because legal experts understand the complicated system better than the average civilian. For example, did you know that if your new home is far enough away from the old home to negatively impact lifestyles, you may have to ask an attorney to file a ”material change in circumstances” with the courts in order to move? This process may require minimal paperwork but it also might require the involved parties to completely re-work their visitation and/or residency schedules.
The courts are then charged with deciding whether a custodial parent can legally move with their children. In some cases, one parent may be given a choice: refrain from moving or relinquish custody of the children to the other parent so as to maintain their schedules, lifestyles and social network. Although it seldom comes to that, the service of a well-trained family law attorney can certainly help make things turn out in your favor.
Regardless of the circumstances, relocating often has a negative impact on the relationship between a child and their non-custodial parent. Still, several factors are considered by the courts before a final decision is made. This not only gives parents and their lawyers a chance to gather evidence to support or negate the validity of the move but it also provides everyone ample opportunity to find alternate arrangements.
It’s important to note that the “best interest of the child” criteria are fact-specific elements that both parents must consider. As such, the judge’s verdict is not always predictable. However, magistrates will often urge parties to reach an agreement outside of court to prevent unnecessary orders and future amendments.
Also vital to understand is the prevalence of parents seeking a temporary custody change instead of a permanent one while a relocation is in question. Some instances involve parents in the beginning stages of separation, thus the court will order one of the parents to live in more affordable housing until equalization can be achieved and child support payments can be calculated. The courts will then consider all the facts to diligently reveal the best interest of the child before reaching a verdict. This is when an experienced lawyer is especially useful, because only veteran lawyers know what to say and do to tip the scales in their client’s favor.
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