What to Know Before You Go: Leaving the State with Your Kids


Categories: Child Relocation, Divorce

There’s no denying that divorce makes parenting much more complicated. Parents must reorganize schedules, rethink holidays, and even begin making support payments. And that’s not including the day-to-day decisions! What happens if you decide to move out of the state with your children?

To begin with, you should never leave the state with your children without first letting the other parent know or, if you’re leaving because of the other parent, contact a lawyer immediately. One of the worst things you can do during and after a divorce is leave the state unannounced.

Parental Kidnapping

If your former spouse has court-mandated parenting time or is the custodial parent, you run the risk of them reporting you for parental kidnapping, also called custodial interference, which are serious charges not to be taken lightly.

If you’re temporarily leaving the state for a vacation or for a family emergency, inform the other parent of your plans ahead of time to avoid having charges filed against you if they find out after the fact. If they won’t agree to you taking your children out of the state, contact a lawyer to help you find a way to make it happen.

Moving Out of State

If you’re planning on moving out of state, contact a lawyer before you let the other parent know of your plans. Distance is a major contributing factor to custody and parenting time in most divorce settlements, so your decision to move could have massive repercussions to the current custody decision.

The states differ vastly on custody between parents living in two different states and it can quickly become complicated. This is another reason we always recommend contacting a lawyer. They can help determine what actions to take before your move.

Good Faith Burden of Proof

If you’re moving out of state and you’d like to ensure that your children come with you, it is your responsibility to give “good faith” reasons for the move, especially if moving the child would disrupt the child’s school, emotional, and social stability. It will make visitation even more difficult for the noncustodial parent, which they may or may not take well.

Good faith reasons may include:

A better cost of living,

To be closer to your family to help with child care responsibilities

A new job (actual offer, not “just looking”)

Continuing your education.

Please note that, while these are all good reasons, they are not a guarantee that a judge will grant you the ability to move.

Familiarize yourself with the factors that can go into how the courts determine parenting time and custody by downloading our eBook “The Complete Guide to Maximizing Your Parenting Time.”