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Is It Possible to Relocate With Children After a Divorce?

Law Office of Ivy L. Graham April 13, 2023

Mother with children and father separated by gorgeEvery year, many American households move from one state to another for various reasons, including employment and educational opportunities, starting a family, or moving closer to loved ones. Similarly, either party may decide to relocate after a divorce to start afresh. 

However, parental relocation usually brings about different issues in divorce cases that involve children under the age of 18. In Louisiana, custodial parents who want to move away with their child must notify the other parent or seek court approval for the relocation. 

At the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we’re dedicated to offering reliable guidance and advocacy to clients in matters of divorce and parental relocation. Our knowledgeable family law attorney can enlighten you about your rights and options for relocating with children after a divorce. If you’re seeking immediate assistance, contact our office in Denham Springs, Louisiana, today to set up a consultation.  

Relocating With Your Child in Louisiana  

Before a divorce can be finalized, the court will issue a parenting plan or child custody order indicating the child’s principal residence and other matters involving their children. However, there are specific laws and rules designed to address parental relocation in the state of Louisiana. 

Defining Relocation 

Under Louisiana law, a "relocation" occurs when the child's principal residence changes for at least 60 days. The child's principal residence is the location determined by the court order or where the parents agreed the child would live after the divorce. Generally, changes in the child’s residence for less than 60 days would be considered a temporary residence and won’t be subject to Louisiana relocation laws. 

Who Can Relocate With a Child in Louisiana? 

Furthermore, the following people may be eligible to relocate with a child: 

  • The parent with sole custody. 

  • A parent that shares equal physical custody. 

  • The parent named as domiciliary in joint custody. 

Louisiana Relocation Law 

According to Louisiana relocation law, an eligible parent who wants to relocate with the child must notify the child’s other parent if: 

  • The parent wants to move away with the child to any place outside the boundaries of Louisiana. 

  • A parent wants to move the child's principal residence over 75 miles away within Louisiana when there is no child custody order. 

  • A parent with shared custody wants to move the child more than 75 miles away within Louisiana when a principal residence isn’t established. 

Additionally, the moving parent must provide the written notice to the nonmoving parent and the Louisiana court at least 60 days before the intended move. If the other parent objects to the move, a court hearing may be scheduled to determine if relocation is in the best interest of the child. 

Notification Requirements 

When planning to relocate, the following information must be provided in the relocation notice: 

  • The current mailing address of the moving parent. 

  • The date of the intended move. 

  • The proposed new residence or physical address. 

  • The proposed new mailing address. 

  • The relocating parent’s home and cellular telephone numbers. 

  • A brief statement about the particular reasons for moving the child. 

  • A proposed new custody and visitation schedule. 

  • A statement that the nonmoving parent can object to the relocation request within 30 days. 

Furthermore, the relocation notice can be sent using certified or registered mail or delivered via a commercial courier. If the nonmoving parent fails to object or respond to the notice within 30 days, the moving parent can initiate a summary court proceeding where the judge will approve the move. Conversely, a contradictory hearing may be scheduled if the nonmoving parent objects to the relocation. 

Factors the Court Will Consider

During the contradictory hearing, the Louisiana court will consider the available evidence and listen to testimony from both parties to determine whether the move is in the child's best interest. In addition, the court may consider the factors below to make a decision about relocation: 

  • The nature and quality of the relationship between the parents, siblings, and close relatives. 

  • The effect of relocation on the child’s physical, emotional, and educational development. 

  • The age, needs, and developmental stage of the child. 

  • The child’s reasonable preference – if he or she is mature enough. 

  • The parents' reasons for seeking or objecting to the relocation. 

  • Whether a suitable custody and visitation schedule can be established to preserve a good relationship between both parties. 

  • The extent to which the nonmoving parent is compliant with alimony and child support obligations

  • The possibility of a separate relocation by the objecting parent. 

  • Any history of drug abuse, domestic violence, or harassment by either parent. 

  • Any other factor that affects the child’s best interests. 

If the court approves the move, the judge may ask the moving parent to pay a bond (reasonable economic security) to the court, guaranteeing that they won’t interfere with the visitation rights of the nonmoving parent. In some cases, there may be a need to adjust the existing custody and visitation arrangement. 

Visitation for the Non-custodial Parent

As mentioned earlier, the court requires the relocating parent to adhere to the nonmoving parent’s visitation rights. Regardless, the non-relocating parent may be entitled to file a petition seeking a change in the visitation arrangement. 

For the court to approve the request, the requesting parent must show that there has been a "material change in circumstances," and the new visitation arrangement is better than the current arrangement. A trusted divorce attorney can help file your petition and walk you through the legal procedures involved. 

Seek Trusted Legal Guidance for Your Family

Different issues usually arise when a custodial parent wants to relocate after a divorce. Whether you're seeking relocation or objecting to the move, taking the necessary legal procedures and acting in good faith is crucial. At the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham, we’re dedicated to guiding clients through the complexities of parental relocation after divorce. 

Our attorney can evaluate your unique circumstances and help determine if the move is viable for approval. And, we can help write and submit the notification request and represent you during the court hearing. Our dedicated lawyer will also guide you through the post-decree modification process and work diligently to achieve a child custody and visitation arrangement that will be in your family’s best interests. 

Contact us at the Law Office of Ivy L. Graham today to schedule an initial consultation with a trusted family law attorney. We can offer you the personalized legal counsel you need to navigate key decisions in your parental relocation matters. Our firm is proud to serve clients across Denham Springs, Holden, Livingston, Albany, and Colyell, Louisiana.