Raising a child is difficult in the best of times. These days it can be hard to know what to do and how to best support your child. But it is made even harder if you are separated from the other parent and there is contention in the relationship.

One of the most distressing fears that separate parents have is what to do if the other parent tries to abscond with your child. Thankfully there are laws in place that will help you to fight back and keep your child nearby when your ex-spouse wants to move out of state with them. The best news is that they can’t just up and leave the state without first legally setting out a document for relocation.

What Qualifications are Required for a Relocation?

Since a parent cannot just up and leave with a child, there is instead a process for relocating to another state. If you don’t get legal permission to relocate before you leave with your child it is then considered to be parental kidnapping and can result in some nasty consequences.

In order to relocate you must send a document to the other parent at least sixty days before you move. Please note that this number is a generalization, as some parental agreements will require you to send notification of the move even further ahead of time.

The document that you must send for relocation has to include:

  • The date upon which you plan to move.
  • The address of your new residence.
  • Whether or not the move is temporary or permanent. If it is a temporary relocation then you must also include how long you will be staying there.

After the other parent receives this document they can agree to the move, sign the document and allow it to go forward or they can refuse to sign it and start the process of fighting the move in court. A court date will be set in the case that the move will be fought and it will then be up to the judge to determine whether or not the move can go ahead.

What Can I Do To Prevent the Other Parent from Moving?

If the other parent wants to move out of state (or even further away in state than your agreement allows) then it is reassuring to know that they can’t legally do it if you don’t agree. That is, they can’t legally do it without first getting the court to overrule your objection and that takes time.

If you are against the move then the easiest option for the other parent is to just cancel the move. This might be the outcome some of the time but if they really want to move then they’ll send a petition for relocation to the court and a hearing date will be set for the other parent and you to meet in front of a judge. The judge will listen to the arguments for and against the move and look at any evidence that might be relevant.

You can expect to be asked questions such as:

  • How will the quality of living for the child (and the parent) be improved by the move?
  • What are the reasons behind the move? Are they based on the wellbeing of the child and the parent or is there something malicious happening?
  • Does the move exist only to deny access to the child from one of the parents?
  • Moving is an emotional experience to a child. What factors are there that will help the child through this?
  • How will the move impinge among the other parent’s access to the child? Does this impinge upon the parenting agreement in place?
  • What are the benefits or possible harm in not moving?

These are just a few of the many questions that the judge is likely to ask during the hearing. What the judge is after is to determine how the move will impact the child. Is the move going to benefit the child or will it cause more harm than good? They want to make sure first and foremost that the reasoning behind the move are legitimate and not just meant to deny the child from the other parent.

It will be up to the judge whether or not you can stop the other parent from moving out of state with your child. In rare cases, the results of this investigation can even start the process of terminating one of the parents parental rights.

What Happens If the Other Parent Leaves Without First Getting the Required Consent?

A parent cannot just run off with a child without first seeking permission. To do so is considered parental kidnapping. Parental kidnapping covers more than just leaving the state, as denying a parent access to the child as outlined in the parental agreement also constitutes parental kidnapping.

In cases of parental kidnapping, your first line of defense is to speak to law enforcement. Parental kidnapping can end in a court order or even criminal charges leveled against the offending parent.

What Can I Do To Stop the Other Parent From Moving Out of State With My Kids?

If the other parent of your child has stated their intention to relocate and you want to deny the relocation then the best thing to do is to speak to an experienced attorney that can help you to build a case for why the relocation should be denied. An attorney that has experience in this field will be able to help you come up with compelling arguments for why the relocation should be denied.

Sarieh Law Offices, ALC. have plenty of experience in helping parents like you stop their exes from running off with their kids. Give us a call at 714-694-7723 to see what your options are and how we can help you keep your kid close to home. In the meantime, make sure that you do not sign any of the relocation documents that the other parent sent to you until you have spoken with an attorney and have a plan of action.