Losing regular contact with their children is one of the biggest fears for parents who divorce. This may happen because of parental alienation fueled by the other parent, but it also may occur when the custodial parent announces plans to move to another city or state. Whether the new home would be an hour away by car or a long plane flight can be a problem.
Connecticut is like many other states in that the courts favor shared custody even if the children spend the majority of their time at one primary residence.
Custody agreements often guard against moving away
The courts will either create a parenting plan or authorize one drafted by the parents. These typically guard against the custodial parent leaving, but the noncustodial parent may not have the same limitations. Typical geographic restrictions would be a county, city or length of a drive between the new home and the family’s original residence.
The parent with primary custody will need to seek the courts’ approval if the other parent is against the move or the move violates the custody agreement. For the court to agree to the move, the judge will consider the following:
- The reasons for the custodial parent wishing to move
- The reasons the other parent opposes the move
- The children’s relationship with each parent
- How the move impacts future contact with the noncustodial parent
- How the move will enhance the children and custodial parents economically, emotionally and educationally
- Can a suitable new visitation arrangement maintain the relationship between the children and noncustodial parent
A parent against the move can provide documentation that the motive is out of spite or does not serve the children or family’s interests. If the parent is acting particularly vengeful, the judge may not only stop the move but will even alter the agreement to limit their actions further.
Modifications can make sense
Some modifications will make sense because the family’s needs change, while others may need to be avoided. As was the case with the original divorce agreement, it often makes sense to work with a knowledgeable attorney with experience handling parental relocation. They can work to protect the interests of the children as well as the rights of the parents.