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Raleigh Divorce Lawyer – Can I Move Out of North Carolina with My Children?

Kimberly Wallis, a North Carolina Board Certified Family Law Specialist educates  about relocation of children when divorced parents remarry or move out of state. A common question which arises following a divorce or separation is, “Can I move with the children?”   The short answer is, “it depends.”

Is there a separation agreement or custody order in place? 

             In situations where the parties have signed a separation agreement, the language of the agreement controls.  In most situations, the agreed upon custody and visitation arrangements can not be maintained if one or both parties move out of state.  Accordingly, a move may mean that you are in breach of the separation agreement.  You may wish to file an initial custody action granting you permission to move with the children.   

 If there is already a custody order in place, you should first review the order with an attorney.   In most situations, the custody and visitation schedule ordered by the court can not be maintained if one or both parties move out of state.    Accordingly, a move could mean that you are in contempt of a court order.   In many cases, you may wish to file for modification of the existing custody order to obtain the court’s permission to move with the minor children.

 What if I don’t have a separation agreement or custody order in place?

             Before moving out of state with a minor child, you should still talk with an attorney about laws regarding parental kidnapping and child abduction. 

 What factors does a court consider in determining whether a party may move out-of-state with a minor child?

                   In any relocation case, factors appropriately considered by the trial court include, but are not limited to: 

  • The motivations of the parent desiring the relocation.
  • The motivation of the parent opposing the move.
  • The advantages of relocation in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the minor child.
  • Any disadvantages of relocation on the minor child.
  • The likelihood that a reasonable visitation schedule can be arranged which will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent.
  • The likelihood that the parent desiring the move will comply with visitation orders after they have relocated to another state.

 A parent who wishes to relocate because of a job, new spouse, or to care for sick relatives will have a stronger case than a parent who simply wants to move away from the noncustodial parent.  Similarly, a parent who can demonstrate that the move offers numerous advantages in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the minor child has a stronger case than a parent of a minor child for whom the move offers numerous disadvantages.  If you or your spouse is considering relocating with a minor child, you should consult an attorney with experience handling these kinds of cases.

Contributor: Kimberly A. Wallis – Kimberly Wallis is a partner in the Raleigh, North Carolina Family Law Firm of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC. She is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist. For more information contact the Raleigh, North Carolina Family Law Firm of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC at 1101 Haynes Street, Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27604, Tel: 919-832-8488 or go to www.gailorwallishunt.com.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended as a general guide and is not to be used as legal advice by Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC. Whether or not you may be entitled to take action in regard to the information addressed in this article can only be determined after a thorough review of the facts and circumstances of your case.

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