If a “typical” child custody case can be consider an emotional and expensive roller coaster, then a “relocation” child custody case can be like a Giga Coaster in terms of emotional turmoil, time commitment, attorney’s fees, costs, and Guardian ad Litem fees. Child custody relocation cases usually occur in one of three circumstances following an initial separation or divorce: (1) the custodial parent decides to get remarried to a new spouse who lives in another city, state, or even country; (2) the custodial parent decides he/she wants to move in order to be closer to his/her family members; or (3) the custodial parent or his/her new spouse desires to move to pursue a better/unique employment or educational opportunity which cannot be pursued in the hometown of the child.
However, the parent remaining in the original town or area will, understandably, be upset about the distance which may be introduced into the relationship with his or her child and thus be very concerned about the ‘true’ motivations of the other parent. While our Courts have typically placed much more weight on the ‘best interests of the child’ assessment when reviewing the evidence in a relocation case, there will also be a review of any evidence which seems to indicate that the moving parent may not be motivated to actively maintain the relationship between the child and the remaining parent.
For example, if prior to the move out of state, the parents were already experiencing trouble with the co-parenting relationship, the Guardian ad Litem and the Court may have reasonable concerns about the ability for the moving parent to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship once the distance is introduced. The Court will almost never stand in the way of a parent pursuing an opportunity they wish to pursue in another area, but it can and does often deny the ability of that parent to remove the child from the Court’s jurisdiction and from the other parent if the moving parent cannot prove or convince the Court that he or she will do whatever is necessary within reason to assist their child remain close with their other parent.
If you have any questions about relocation in Massachusetts, call 978-844-4095 or email Attorney Renee Lazar to schedule a free initial consultation.