Sharing custody of a child can be difficult, especially between parents living separate lives. In most situations, some resolution can be found in the middle ground within both parents' interests. However, in cases of relocation, resolution can be almost impossible because one parent wants to move the child to a different county, or worse, a different state.
Relocation usually arises in situations where one parent has primary custody and the other parent has secondary custody. Generally, under North Carolina law, the primary parent has the right to decide where the child lives. However, the secondary parent is still entitled to the right to have a relationship with the child. Thus, the secondary parent can prevent the primary parent from relocating with the child if it is proven that (1) a substantial change in circumstances affects the child; and (2) it is in the best interest of the child to not relocate.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
The fact that the primary parent is seeking to relocate with the child does not prove a substantial change in circumstances in and of itself. The secondary parent must show that the minor child will be greatly affected by the relocation. While it is important that the secondary parent passionately advocate that the loss of time and involvement in the child's life will affect the secondary parent, the focus must be on how it will greatly affect the child. It is best to present as much evidence as possible to the judge to show how the destruction of the relationship between the secondary parent and child will negatively impact the child's life. As every parent-child relationship is unique to each individual family, it is important to know what evidence will be useful to best depict your relationship with your child and the positive and negative effects of a potential move.
Best Interest of the Child
North Carolina has granted the court broad discretion in determining what is in the best interest of the child. A judge will take in consideration these following factors to determine the child's best interest:
- the advantages or disadvantages of the relocation in relation to the life of the child;
- the reasons behind the desire to relocate and the reasons against relocation;
- the likelihood that a realistic visitation schedule can be arranged between both parents; and
- the likelihood that the visitation schedule will be followed, especially if the child is taken outside of North Carolina.
These factors are not exhaustive, meaning the court may find other persuasive factors not listed here to determine the child's best interest. Each case presented to a judge is very fact-specific, so it is very important that a secondary parent strategically present the best evidence in order to protect the parent-child relationship.
Jerkins Family Law
If either parent is planning to relocate with your child, please do not hesitate to call Jerkins Family Law for assistance. JFL is committed to providing the passionate representation you need. We are knowledgeable about which evidence can be used to best show the relationship between you and your child, and to establish why it is in your child's best interest to continue to have a relationship with you. Visit our dedicated child custody page and contact us today so we can guide you to a better solution.