Can I Move If I Have Custody Of My Kids

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A common question comes up during and after a custody case:  Am I allowed to move out of state if I have custody of my kids?  The answer is, not surprisingly, it depends.  In Indiana, relocating when there is an ongoing custody case or following a custody case is governed by the state statutes.

In the last few years, the Indiana legislature has updated the law to make the requirements on a relocating parent less stringent.  With the recent updates, a parent who plans on relocating their residence is only required to file a notice of the intent to move with the clerk of the court if the relocation has not been addressed by a prior court order, the relocation will result in an increase of more than 20 miles in distance between the relocating parent’s residence and the nonrelocating parent’s residence, and any of the parties’ children will have to change schools.

In scenarios where a parent is required to file a notice with the clerk of the court, indicating their intent to relocate, that parent is also required to file and serve the notice on each nonrelocating person who is a party to the case, making sure to follow the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, and shall do so no later than thirty days before the date of the planned relocation or not more than fourteen days after the relocating party becomes aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner.  In the notice to be sent, the new address and the mailing address, if different, the telephone number, the date of the relocation, a statement of the reasons for the proposed relocation of the child, and other pieces of information are required to be included.

The nonrelocating party then is required to file a response not more than twenty days after the day they are served with the notice of the intent to relocate by the relocating parent.  The response must include specific information, including whether or not that parent objects to the relocation of the child and whether or not that parent requests a modification of custody, parenting time, or child support orders.  If an objection is made or a request to modify custody, parenting time, or child support is made, the court is then required to hold a hearing on whether or not the child should be permitted to relocate and then to review and modify, if necessary, any related orders.  If a response is not made, the relocating parent is permitted to relocate to the new home.

At the hearing, the relocating parent has the burden of proof to show the court that the relocation is being made in good faith and for a legitimate reason.  If that burden is met, then the burden shifts to the nonrelocating parent to show that the relocation is not in the best interests of the child.  When making these determinations, the Court has several factors it takes into consideration, including but not limited to: 1) the distance involved in the relocation, 2) the hardship and expense to be incurred for the nonrelocating parent to exercise parenting time, and 3) if there has been a pattern of conduct by the relocating parent to try to promote or harm the nonrelocating parent’s contact with the child, and the reasons provided for and against the relocation.

In some cases, there is a need for the court to order a temporary ruling sooner rather than later, to address whether or not a relocation of a child should occur.  The Court has the authority to do that if the required notice was not served in a timely manner, the child was relocated without proper notice to the nonrelocating party or without the court’s permission, or if the court finds that there is a likelihood that, after a final hearing, the court will approve the relocation of the child.

Complying with the law as it relates to relocating with children involves strict deadlines and specific notices to be provided.  Having an advocate in your corner to make sure you do it the right way and can advocate for you in court if needed is important.  If you plan on relocating or your spouse or ex-spouse plans on relocating with your children, give the family law attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call at (317) 526-4630.  You can schedule a consultation to discuss how our attorneys can help you navigate your case.