Relocation And Child Custody

The law requires the consent of both parents prior to removal or permission from the court to remove your child from the Commonwealth. As a general rule, if you are the primary custodial parent and you want to move out of state with your child, a Massachusetts family court judge will consider several factors to determine if the move is warranted. Under a two-prong test, the court will examine based on the evidence whether or not there is a real advantage to the move. The court will also consider how the move itself will impact the relationship between your child and the other parent, and the existing custodial and parenting arrangements. You need an attorney who understands the law and the individual circumstances of your case and who can effectively argue your case in accordance with these legal standards.

At Moniz & Mendes, P.C., our Salem out-of-state child removal attorneys offer clients throughout Essex County, the North Shore and surrounding communities in Massachusetts the legal counsel they need in all child custody matters, including when a move-away situation arises. If you are already divorced, there is a law about when you must get permission from the other parent or a judge before you move away from Massachusetts with the child. If you want a move-away to be part of your divorce action, we can also help negotiate and petition for this change.

Parent Relocation Factors The Court Will Use

Relocation is a difficult issue, even for the courts, so experienced legal counsel is essential to ensure complications are kept to a minimum. The most important burden to meet in a relocation petition is that you need to show the judge that there is a real advantage to the move and the move is in your child's "best interests." You must first show that you have a good and sincere reason for moving and that your reason for moving is not to keep the other parent from having contact with the child.

In weighing what is in the best interests of your child, the court typically considers the advantages and disadvantages to the move. You must also show that the move is in the child's best interests taking into account all legally relevant factors, including:

  • Will the move improve the quality of life for you and your child
  • Whether the child's quality of life may be improved
  • How moving or not moving will affect the emotional, physical, or developmental needs of the child
  • The possible effect of reducing or eliminating the child's relationship with the noncustodial parent
  • If the custodial parent's quality of life will improve

Under Massachusetts law, no one of these factors is controlling. The judge considers all of the factors, together and will analyze how the relocation will also impact the current visitation schedule. A modification may become necessary to adjust for vacation time, schedules and even support issues. Working with our attorneys, we will ensure that your parental rights are protected and enforced throughout the process.

We understand the complexities involving jurisdiction and will act quickly to collect all relevant evidence. While we are prepared to take any case to trial, we are also able to resolve many cases through negotiation and settlement, with minimal impact on your family.

Learn How Move-Away Laws Apply To Your Situation

Contact us online, or call 781-350-4963 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer at our Salem law office.