Minnesota child custody: Relocating following a divorce

Going through a divorce can be a tumultuous experience for people in Minnesota, and elsewhere. As such, it is not uncommon for people to want to move out of state after their divorce is finalized to get a fresh start, be closer to family or pursue a job opportunity. For custodial parents, however, there is more to the process than making the decision to move, packing up and hitting the road. When parents share custody, or noncustodial parents have parenting time, people may require permission to move out of the state with their children.

With few exceptions, it is generally held that children benefit from having a relationship with both of their parents. Therefore, the courts frequently encourage parenting time and visitation, even if the parents do not share custody. According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, parenting time schedules are often set by court order. Consequently, they cannot be significantly or permanently changed, such as through a relocation, without permission.

Approval from noncustodial parents

Perhaps the easiest way for parents to get permission to move out of state with their children is to ask their child's other parent. If the two parents are able to reach an agreement, they may be able to avoid unnecessary court action. In these cases, it is advisable that parents put their agreements in writing and have them notarized. This may help them prove they had permission should a dispute arise down the road.

Permission from the court

When noncustodial parents oppose relocations, it does not necessarily mean that moving is out of the question. Rather, people may seek permission from the court. In order to make these decisions, the court will consider a number of factors. Under Minnesota state law, these include the following:

  • The child's age, needs and developmental state
  • The reasons why a parent wants to move
  • The reasons why a parent opposes the move
  • How the move will affect the child's safety and welfare
  • Whether or not the move will improve the quality of life for the child, as well as the parent

Depending on the child's age and maturity level, the court may also take into consideration his or her preference. As is the case with most court decisions pertaining to children, it is the court's responsibility to determine whether or not the relocation is in the child's best interests.

Consulting with an attorney

Obtaining permission to relocate after a Minnesota divorce can be difficult. This is especially true in cases when noncustodial parents contest such requests. As such, those who are considering moving with their children after a divorce may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their rights and options, as well as guide them through the process of obtaining a child custody modification.