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Can one parent move with their children after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Divorce

Parents who share custody after divorce often disagree on any number of issues. One parent may feel like it is perfectly acceptable for their high school freshman to join the football team, while the other may think it is too dangerous. Parents may have differing values and medical preferences. They may find themselves arguing sometimes about the best way to raise their children.

Occasionally, a co-parenting situation goes from a minor disagreement to a potentially life-changing conflict. If one parent decides to move away with the children, that could forever affect the relationship that the other has with them. Can someone who is subject to a custody order in Massachusetts pack up and leave the state with their children?

Relocations require pre-approval

A parental relocation sometimes requires permission from the state or the other parent. There are three scenarios in which Massachusetts could intervene in a potential parental relocation. The first is when there is a custody order in place. The second is when the child is a Massachusetts native, meaning they were born in the state and have spent their life here so far. The third is when a child has lived in Massachusetts for at least five years.

Someone in a shared custody arrangement likely has to seek pre-approval to comply with Massachusetts custody laws. Before they move, they have to provide written notice to the other parent and the courts about the proposed relocation. If the other parent questions the move instead of approving it, then the matter may have to go to court.

A judge looks at factors including the current custody order and the impact that the move might have on the children. They may approve a move if they believe it is in the children’s best interest but may decline it if the motive is solely to get away from the other parent. Therefore, someone proposing or contesting a relocation frequently needs evidence supporting their perspective on the matter.

Understanding how Massachusetts handles contentious custody matters, like a relocation with children, can benefit parents who can’t agree on key parenting issues. Cooperation or court approval is usually necessary in cases where someone intends to leave the state.