Relocating with Children after Divorce

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It is not uncommon for a family law attorney to be asked by a client, “I want to move out of state with my children, can I?”  Unfortunately, the answer may not be simple.  If both parents agree to the move, then it should be a simple matter of memorializing the agreement in, a supplemental parenting plan filed with the court.  The not-so-simple situation arises when one parent does not agree to the other parent’s proposed move.

First, check one’s divorce judgment to see whether there are restrictions or conditions on the parent’s ability to move. Such conditions are not uncommon and may have even been agreed to between the parties during the divorce. Second, in most cases Oregon law restrains both parents from moving “. . . to a residence more than 60 miles further distant from the other parent without giving the other parent reasonable notice . . .”(ORS 107.159). Forty-five days is generally considered reasonable notice.

If no objection is received, the ‘moving parent’ may wait forty-five days and then proceed with the move.  If the other parent objects or it is assumed that they will object eventually, the moving parent may proceed with filing with the court a motion to allow the move.  The ‘objecting parent’ has the same option of filing a motion asking the court to not allow the move.

How will the court decide whether or not to allow the move? It may not be enough for the moving parent to argue to the court that they should be allowed to move with the children simply because they have a terrific job opportunity. The court will make its decision based on the children’s best interest.

The court will consider any number of things, such as the family’s financial circumstances, whether there is family in the new location, the quality of schools in both locales, increased travel expense for parenting time and even a child’s special medical or educational needs. It can get quite complicated.

The court will also look closely at how the move may impact the children’s relationship with the other parent. A typical outcome when a parent moves is that the other parent, while seeing the children less frequently, may actually end up being entitled to more overall parenting time.

A divorced parent’s move – that will impact the other parent’s time with the children – is not always a simple matter. SKH is here to answer your questions and help guide you through this emotionally-charged issue.