When you have to move because of a new job or to be closer to family, you have to be prepared for a lot of changes. This may mean a new school district, new job, and new neighborhood. However, moving can be more complicated when you have shared child custody. With a long-distance move, shared custody will generally mean one parent will end up seeing the children less frequently.
On average, Americans move more than 11 times in their lifetimes. Moving away is almost inevitable for most people, especially after major life changes like getting a divorce. However, this doesn't make moving any easier. For children with separated parents, a move means new friends, a new home, and possible changes in how much time they spend with the non-custodial parents. For parents, a move may require a change in the child custody plan.
If your child custody arrangements were based on an agreement or consent order that did not require the courts, you may be able to talk to your former spouse about the move and changes to the child custody plans. However, if child custody was contested, you may have to go back to court before you can make the move or make changes to custody.
Your child custody order or agreement may have restrictions on travel and relocation. Making a move in violation of the custody order can result in sanctions and court action. Before moving your child in violation of the child custody order, you generally need to have the order changed or get approval from the court. You may also need permission from the other parent before you can move. Without approval, the other parent may be able to force you and your children to return to North Carolina.
A change in the child custody order generally begins with filing a for a new court order. If the move is contested by the other parent, the court may hold a hearing to decide whether the move is in the best interests of the child. If the parents cannot agree on changes to the custody order, the court will decide how to modify the custody order and provide a new visitation and custody schedule.
If the parents move far away or out of state, the visitation schedule is generally amended to provide for less frequent, but longer visits. This takes into account the time and money it takes for long-distance travel and to reduce interruptions to the child's school schedule. For example, if the parents were on an alternating weeks schedule when they lived closer, a post-move schedule may change to visits on summer breaks or during school vacations.
Moves may require a change to the custody or visitation schedule; however, a move generally does not result in changes to legal custody. In general, unless orders provide otherwise, parents in North Carolina will have shared legal custody. This involves making joint decisions about the child's education, medical care, and religion.
Jerkins Family Law
If you have questions about how a move will affect your child custody arrangement, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. We are committed to providing the passionate representation you and your children need. Visit our dedicated child custody page and contact our Raleigh office today so we can guide you to a better solution.