A custody order will define visitation schedules, child support, transportation arrangements, and which parent has legal and physical custody of a child. Legal custody involves a parent's right to make major decisions on a child's behalf. Physical custody is where a child lives. One parent can have sole physical and legal custody, or parents can split physical and/or legal custody under a joint custody arrangement. Even if parents share joint physical and legal custody, a court will appoint a custodial parent. The custodial parent has the final say when the parents can't agree on something involving their child.
Judges consider several factors in determining the arrangement that will meets a child's best interests, including:
Relocation means more than a move down the street. Under Nevada law, the custodial parent must seek written permission from the other parent before moving out of state or moving a distance that substantially interferes with the other parent's visitation. If the child's other parent won't consent to the relocation, then the moving parent must seek permission from the court to relocate.
A parent who shares joint custody of the child, but isn't the primary custodial parent has an additional hurdle to overcome in relocation cases. Specifically, a parent seeking to relocate must motion the court to become the child's primary custodial parent. A court will evaluate whether it's in the child's best interests to remain in the state or move out of state.
For example, in one Nevada case a mother sought to move to California for a new job and educational opportunities. The court denied the mother's request to relocate with the children because she wasn't the primary custodial parent and hadn't filed for primary custody. However, once primary physical custody has been established, the custodial parent can file a request for permission to relocate. A judge will schedule a hearing to determine whether the relocation would serve the child's best interests.
You should bring any evidence or witnesses that support your case to a relocation hearing. You will likely have to testify at the hearing. A custodial parent bears the initial burden of proof at a relocation hearing to show that:
Once a custodial parent has established these facts, a court will evaluate additional factors to determine whether the proposed move serves the child's best interests. Specifically, a judge will consider:
For example, in one Nevada case, the court allowed a child's mother to relocate to New Jersey. The mother was the custodial parent and was pursuing the move in good faith because there were better career opportunities available in New Jersey. Additionally, New Jersey offered better educational opportunities for the child, the chance to be near extended family, and the child's father would still have reasonable access to visitation. All those factors demonstrated that the move served the child's best interests.
If you have questions about relocating with children after a divorce, contact a local family law attorney for advice.