One of the most confusing legal issues involving child custody and child support is what to do when one parent wants to move away with the children. Whether the issue comes up during divorce or after your Minnesota child custody and child support orders have been in place for years, child relocation can throw a wrench in even the most flexible plans.
Why? First, Minnesota laws specifically state that a custodial parent (the parent with whom a child resides) cannot move the child to another state unless there is a court order allowing the move or unless the other parent agrees to the move and he or she has parenting time.
Second, the move would undoubtedly interfere with the visitation / parenting time that the child has with the other parent and child custody, child support and visitation orders might need to be modified.
Finally, the move may not be in the best interests of the child. If it isn’t, a court will not allow relocation.
Best interests of the child
Minnesota courts are required to consider the best interests of the child when determining whether it will allow relocation. To do so, the court can look at multiple factors, including:
- The nature and quality of the child’s relationship with both parents, siblings and other significant people
- The effect the move will have on the child’s physical, emotional and educational development
- The child’s preferences, if the child is of an appropriate age and maturity
- Whether there is evidence that the parent seeking to relocate has attempted to hinder the relationship between the child and his or her other parent
- How relocation would affect the quality of life of the child and parent seeking relocation
- Any evidence of domestic abuse
Unless he or she is the victim of domestic abuse, the parent requesting the move has the burden of proving that the move is in the child’s best interests.
Source: Minnesota Statutes, Section 518.175, subd. 3, “Parenting Time.”