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Covington Child Custody Attorneys Resolve Relocation Issues

Southern Louisiana firms deals with difficulties of family separation

After couples divorce, they may pursue employment opportunities and romantic attachments that that sometimes take them away from the communities in which they and their children lived as a family. However, when a parent with custody of a child wishes to move somewhere else, it can have adverse effects. Louisiana law restricts the custodial parent’s ability to relocate children over long distances. Whether you are a custodial parent seeking to relocate or a non-custodial parent objecting to the move, the attorneys at Conroy Law Firm, PLC in Covington and Metairie have the expertise to counsel you.

What sort of move constitutes a relocation

Under Louisiana Revised Statutes § 9:355.1 et seq.,  a relocation occurs when the child’s principal residence changes for 60 days or more to a location that is more than 75 miles away from the domicile of the other parent or to one that is outside of Louisiana. A child’s “principal residence” is the one determined by court order or, in the absence of a court order, the place the parents agreed that the child should live or where the child lived for most of the last six months.

The only people who may ask for relocation are:

  • A parent given sole custody of the child in a current court decree
  • A parent designated as a domiciliary parent in a joint custody arrangement
  • A parent sharing joint physical custody of the child under a court order
  • A person who is the natural tutor of a child born outside of marriage, which usually means the surviving parent where one parent dies

A move is a relocation only if it there is an intent to establish a new principal residence for the child. A temporary absence from the principal residence does not qualify.

Steps necessary for lawful relocations

Parents must meet certain legal requirements before they can relocate with a child. The first step is to give notice of the proposed relocation to the other parent at least 60 days in advance. The notice must contain:

  • The moving parent’s current mailing address
  • The intended new residence, including its physical address, if known, and its mailing address
  • The home and cellular telephone numbers of the relocating parent, if known
  • The date of the proposed move
  • A brief statement of the specific reasons for relocating the child
  • A proposed new schedule of custody and visitation that accommodates the move
  • A statement that the non-moving parent has the right to object and explaining how to do so
  • A statement that the non-relocating parent should seek legal advice immediately.

If a relocating parent fails to give proper notice, a judge can use that failure as a factor in deciding whether to allow the relocation, order the relocating parent to return the child, or order the relocating parent to pay the other parent’s legal expenses.

Property strategies for contest relocation

If the other parent objects to relocation, he or she must give the relocating parent a written objection by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, within 30 days after receiving the notice. Then, the relocating parent cannot take the child away without obtaining the court’s consent, which might require a trial.

The parent proposing relocation has the burden of proof that it is being done in good faith and is in the best interest of the child. In deciding whether to grant permission, the court considers these factors:

  • The child’s relationship to the important people in the child’s life
  • The child’s age, developmental stage and needs
  • The likely impact of relocation on the child’s development
  • The feasibility of preserving the child’s relationship with the other parent after relocation
  • The child’s preference, if the child is mature enough
  • Whether either parent has a history of thwarting the child’s relationship with each other
  • How relocation will affect the child
  • The extent to which the non-relocating parent has supported the child
  • The feasibility of a separate relocation by the other parent
  • Either parent’s history of substance abuse, violence and domestic abuse, if any

Relocating without court approval or in violation of a prior court order may constitute a change of circumstances warranting a modification of custody.

Contact a lawyer you can trust

If you are seeking to relocate with your children or you are a parent who wishes to contest a proposed relocation, The Conway Law Firm in Covington and Metairie has the knowledge and experience to help. To arrange a consultation, call us at 985-606-3885 or contact us online.