RELOCATING WITH A MINOR CHILD: “MUST I STAY OR CAN I GO”?

One of the thorniest issues that can arise between divorced parents occurs when one parent wishes to relocate with a minor child after child custody orders have been entered as part of a divorce judgment. Perhaps the parent wishing to relocate has landed her dream job in a far-away city or wants to move closer to family. Perhaps he is remarrying and wishes to live with his soon-to-be new spouse who resides elsewhere with her own children.

The reality is that a Connecticut parent wishing to relocate with a minor child after entry of custody orders (whether to another state or even a significant distance within Connecticut) has substantial and challenging legal hurdles to overcome if the other parent opposes the move. In such circumstances, the parent wishing to relocate must obtain approval from a Court, and Connecticut statutory law sets forth a particular analysis that Courts must employ when considering a relocation Motion.

In considering a parent’s request for permission to relocate with a minor child, the adjudicating Court must first determine whether the proposed relocation would have a significant impact upon the existing parenting plan. If the answer to this threshold question is “no,” the parent wishing to relocate is free to pack her bags and go. Take an easy example: imagine a scenario in which the father lives in California and the mother wishes to relocate with the parties’ minor child from Greenwich to Westport. The mother’s relocation is not going to impact whatever parenting plan is in place and so there will be no legal impediment to the mother’s relocation. Now imagine a scenario in which both parents live in Darien, and the Mother wishes to relocate to Texas with the parties’ minor child. Undoubtedly, such a relocation would have a significant impact upon any existing parenting plan, and such a proposed relocation would necessitate further analysis by the Court as discussed below. These are two very straightforward examples, but there are certainly situations where the threshold question of whether a proposed relocation would significantly impact an existing parenting plan does not have an easy answer.

For example, imagine a scenario in which both parents live in New Canaan and one parent wants to relocate to New Haven or Hartford. That’s a tougher call that would require a careful analysis by the Court of the particular facts of the case.  More on Relocation

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