One spouse may wish to pursue a fresh start after a marriage ends by relocating to a new state or even across the country. When this individual is a parent, however, he or she must seek permission from the court to take the children out of the state, especially when the other parent disagrees with the move. 

If your child’s other parent is planning to move away from Massachusetts and you want to prevent these plans from affecting your ability to share parenting time, you have legal recourse. 

Child and parent consent 

Children must consent to any move out of state with one parent if they were born in Massachusetts and/or have lived in the state for at least five years. In the case of a child who is not old enough to consent, determined by the judge on an individual basis, both parents must provide consent. In certain cases, the court may decide to allow the move against one parent’s wishes. These laws apply to both divorcing and unmarried parents. 

The process of contesting parental relocation 

A parent can either file a petition with the court to remove the child from Massachusetts or request removal as part of an ongoing divorce. In either case, you must legally receive notification in writing and can respond with your own petition to disallow the move. When you think the other parent may move without legal permission, you can also ask for bond to prevent him or her from leaving the state. 

If you have a shared custody order, the parent who wants to move has to show the court that the new location would be more beneficial than living close to both parents. When the parent who wants to move has sole physical custody, the burden of proof is lower. He or she must simply show that the move is in the child’s best interest, based on its projected educational, social, familial and financial impact.