Child Relocation After a Divorce in Massachusetts

During divorce proceedings, child custody arrangements are determined. These arrangements must be followed because they are court-ordered. As the child’s parents lives continue after their divorce, they face new opportunities and circumstances that may require them to change their location. This may be due to a job opportunity or a family matter that requires them to move. When this happens, the parent may want their child to relocate as well. This can be a difficult and controversial situation, as the other parent may not want their child to move far away from them. In the event of situations such as these, parents have the right to fight for their child to stay close and not relocate with the other parent. These cases can be brought to court and the decision will be made by a judge.

Physical Custody vs Legal Custody

Physical and Legal custody are two different types of child custody arrangements. While they are different, neither one is necessarily more important than the other. The concepts apply to two different things. Physical custody determines one parent as the custodial parent, with whom the child spends most of their time. This means the child will live with them the majority of the time, but also spend time in their other parent’s residence as well.

Legal Custody gives a parent the right to make important decisions for their child. This can include matters such as medical treatment, the child’s education, religious practices, and more. Legal custody allows a parent the opportunity to be a part of the major decisions in their child’s life. This can include the child’s relocation. Even if they do not have physical custody of their child, they can still have a say in if they move or not.

Requirements to Relocate

The relocation of a child after a divorce is a very sensitive matter. It can cause a need for an adjustment to the child custody and visitation agreement that was made in the divorce. In the state of Massachusetts, the law requires certain qualifications to be met in order for a parent to relocate out of the state with their child. This includes:

  • If the child lived in Massachusetts for at least five years, the custodial parent must get the child’s permission to move them out of state. This is only if the child is old enough to consent. If they are not, the custodial parent must request the consent of the child’s other parent or the family court
  • If the noncustodial parent is against the move, the custodial parent that intends to leave the state must prove to the court that the relocation is in the best interest of the child. When this happens, the court will consider several factors in determining what the child’s best interest is

Contact our Firm

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.