If a non-relocating parent objects to your proposed move, then the court gets involved. As an initial matter, it is important to be aware of what the court can and cannot do. The court cannot prevent you from moving. The court can prevent you from moving with your children. The heart of any relocation case is where the children are going to live.
Difficulty in Relocating with Children
Relocation cases can be more difficult, emotionally straining, and contentious than an initial custody hearing. For instance, let’s assume the non-relocating parent has standard Indiana Parenting Time Guideline parenting time. You really want to move from Indiana to Georgia for an incredible new job opportunity and to be closer to family.
If you relocate, though, the non-relocating parent could go from seeing the children every few days to every few months. The opportunity to attend soccer games or recitals would be gone. Facing such a reduction in involvement, it can be assumed that the non-relocating parent is going to fight tooth and nail to prevent you from relocating with the children. But at the same time your move would be life changing in a positive way. These competing outcomes present a challenge to litigants and the court.
Relocation Court Cases
So what does the judge do when presented with a relocation case? The applicable relocation law sets forth a two-part analysis (scroll down to I.C. 31-17-2.2-5). Bear in mind, though, the second part of the analysis is only relevant if the first part is satisfied. This is what is known as a shifting burden.
Relocation Analysis: Part 1
The first part of the analysis is whether the proposed move is being made for a “good faith and for a legitimate reason.” Presenting evidence and satisfying this part of the analysis is the burden of the relocating parent. Generally speaking, this part of the analysis is not overly difficult to satisfy. For instance, moving to be closer to family because you need help caring for the children may be sufficient. Another common reason for a move is to pursue a better job opportunity.
Relocation Analysis: Part 2
The second part of the analysis is whether the move is in the best interests of the children. It is the non-relocating parent who bears the burden of showing that the proposed move is not in the best interests of the children. A common approach is to provide the court with evidence showing the children’s attachment to family, friends, and school. In addition, the non-relocating parent should be prepared to show that he/she is capable of providing primary care for the children.
ROBERTS MEANS, LLC: Your Family Law Experts
For additional information concerning relocation, please go to our discussion of relocation, previous blog, ‘What is a Notice of Intent to Relocate?‘ or feel free to call ROBERTS MEANS, LLC at (317) 353-3600 or contact us via email if you have any questions concerning relocation or opposing a proposed relocation.