Though many divorced parents in South Bend share child custody, often one parent has sole physical custody, with parenting time (commonly known as visitation rights) reserved for the other parent. An arrangement like this can frustrate the noncustodial parent, but it can be in the child’s best interests to have one home nearly all the time.

But when the custodial parent seeks to move out of Indiana and take their child with them, things can get tense. Though the move could be a good opportunity for the custodial parent and the kid, it could also significantly reduce the already-limited amount of time the child gets to spend with the other parent. Child custody relocation disputes must be handled with sensitivity and concern for the child’s well-being.

In Indiana, when the custodial parent wants to move to a home that would increase the distance between their residence and the noncustodial parent’s residence by more than 20 miles, the custodial parent must file a notice of intent to relocate in family court and serve notice to the other parent.

Negotiations vs. trial

Some parents are able to negotiate an agreement about a proposed relocation out of court. For example, the noncustodial parent may agree to let the custodial parent and child move 300 miles from South Bend. In exchange, the child will spend certain holidays and a few weeks in the summer with the noncustodial parent.

If you and your co-parent cannot settle out of court, you may have to hold a hearing before a family court judge. As with all family law matters involving children, the judge’s primary concern will by your child’s best interests. Factors they will consider could include:

  • The child’s education
  • The reasons for the proposed move, such as a higher-paying job, continuing education, or moving in with a romantic partner
  • Where the child’s other relatives live

Each side will get to present their case for why the relocation would or would not be in the best interests of the child. Then the judge will issue a ruling in favor or against the plan.

When fighting for your children, you do not have to do it alone

Legal disputes over the children are not fun, but as a parent, you have the responsibility to stand up for your kids’ needs. Make sure the attorney who represents you practices in family law, and understands the emotional stakes for everyone involved.