I’m Moving with my Child in Indiana

It’s well established that the United States has one of the highest divorce rates in the world with approximately 50% of first marriages ending in divorce, 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages. Further, the CDC estimates that 43% of children in Indiana are born out of wedlock.  Throw in the statistic that most American’s move approximately 11 times in their lifetime and you have a good chance that you’re going to be one of the people who needs to follow Indiana’s Relocation Statute.

So what do I need to do if I want to move with my child?

First thing you need to do it determine whether you’re subject to the statute.  In order to do this, answer a couple of quick questions:

  • Do you have a child(ren) under the age of 18? If no, stop here. Indiana’s relocation statute only pertains to children under the age of 18.
  • If your child was born during a marriage then answer:
    • Are you still married to the child’s other parent?  If the answer is yes, then the answer is NO you do not have to do anything.  In tact families may move and relocate as much as they want to without regulation of the government.
    • Were you and the child’s other parent divorced in another state? If yes, then stop here and consult an attorney in the state where your divorce took place to see what requirements that state has.
    • Were you and the child’s other parent divorced in Indiana? If yes, then you will need to follow the relocation statute.
    • If your child was born out of wedlock, then answer:
    • Was paternity established by either a Court or a Paternity Affidavit? If yes, then you will need to follow the relocation statue.

Exceptions to the above:

  • Has your move already been addressed by current court order, including an order relieving you of the obligation to file a Notice?
  • Will your move result in a decrease in distance between you and the non-relocating parent and allow the child to remain in the same school district?
  • Will your move result in less than an increase of 20 miles between you and the non-relocating parent and allow the child to remain in the same school district?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then you just need to file a change of address with the Court.  However, if your child needs to change schools or you are moving more than 20 miles from your current residence, you will need to follow the relocation statute.

Now that you know…. Here is what you need to do: Prepare a Notice of Intent to Relocate.

Timing:  Timing is everything.

  • You must send your notice of intent to relocate at least 30 days before your intended move.
  • If you know you are moving more than 30 days ahead of time, then you must file your notice within 14 days of learning that you are moving.

Location:  Where do I send this Notice?

  • If you have a court that hears your matters on custody and parenting time, ie, divorce court or paternity court, you will need to file your notice into that Court and serve the non-relocating individuals.
  • If you do not have a court, but have a paternity affidavit, etc., then you need to send your notice to the non-relocating individual via registered or certified mail.

Contents:  Your notice MUST include the following information:

  • Your new residence and address, including a mailing address if it is different than the physical address. (Note:  if you have a confidential address due to an Order of Protection you will have different requirements and you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney.)
  • All telephone numbers you have.
  • The date you intend to move.
  • The specific reason you are intending to move, ie. marriage, employment opportunities, etc.
  • A statement that a party may file a petition requesting an order to prevent the temporary or permanent relocation of a child. If you believe parenting time will change, than include a proposal of what parenting time should be once you move.
  • A statement that a non-relocating parent must file a response regarding the relocation of the child with the court not later than twenty (20) days after service of the notice.
  • A statement that a party may file a petition requesting an order to prevent the temporary or permanent relocation of a child.
  • A statement that all existing orders for custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation, and child support remain in effect until modified by the court.

You’ve filed your Notice of Intent to Relocate, Now What?

Wait!  The non-relocating individual has 20 days to file a response.

Can the non-relocating individual stop me from moving?  No, but they can stop you from taking your minor child with you.  As stated, the non-relocating individual has 20 days to file a Response.

  • A non-relocating individual can file a response that states that they don’t object to the relocation and that they are not requesting a change in parenting time or custody. In that case, you are free to move with your child on the expected date.
  • A non-relocating individual can respond stating that they do not object to the relocation but they’re requesting a modification of custody or parenting time based on the relocation. In that case, a hearing will need to be set in court to address what the changes to custody, parenting time, child support or grandparent visitation will be.
  • Finally, a non-relocating individual can respond stating that they DO objection to the relocation and are requesting a modification of custody, parenting time, child support or grandparent visitation. In that case, a hearing will also need to be set to make those determinations.

What if my ex doesn’t file a response?  Then you are free to move with your child and provide notice to the court.

What if my ex-objects to me relocating and asks for a change in custody, can I still move pending the hearing?  If a non-relocating individual objects to your relocation and requests a modification, the trial court has a couple of options.

  • The court can grant a temporary order restraining a parent from relocating a child pending a hearing on the matter.
  • The court can order the return of the child to a non-relocating individual if there is evidence that the child has been relocated without proper notice, an agreement or a court order.
  • The court can grant a temporary relocation of the minor child pending final hearing.

What does the court look at when deciding if I can move with my child?  If a hearing is conducted, the relocating parent has the obligation (called the “burden of proof”) to show that they are moving for a legitimate good-faith reason.  Once that happens, the burden shifts to the non-relocating individual to prove that it’s not in the child’s best interest to move.

  • People move for all kinds of reasons including relationships, family and employment opportunities. The Indiana courts have considered all of these to be legitimate good faith basis for relocating.  In truth, proving a good-faith basis for moving is pretty easy.
  • The harder part of this is determining the best interest of the child(ren). In addition to looking at factors specific to the relocation, the court can also look into all of the original factors in making determinations regarding parenting time and custody, which include:
    • Distance between non-relocating individual and the child
    • Difficulty of exercising parenting time for the non-relocating individual
    • Cost of exercising parenting time for the non-relocating individual
    • The age and sex of the child.
    • The wishes of the child’s parent or parents.
    • The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
    • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with: the child’s parent or parents; the child’s sibling; and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.
    • The child’s adjustment to the child’s: home; school; and community.
    • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
    • Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
    • Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors described in section 8.5(b)of this chapter.
    • A designation in a power of attorney of: the child’s parent; or a person found to be a de facto custodian of the child.

This post is intended to provide general information on the requirements of the relocation statute.  If you need assistance with filing or responding to a Notice of Intent to Relocate, please contact the experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC at (317) 526-4630 or email us at info@banksbrower.com for an initial consultation to determine how we can help.