You’re finally finished with your divorce, and now you can start over. Maybe, in your mind, that means moving and putting down roots in a new location. However, before you start looking into new homes and applying for different jobs, it’s important to discuss your plan to move with your family law attorney. Under Alabama law, you may not be allowed to make the unilateral decision to move with your children.
Wondering what your rights are and how you can start fresh with your kids? Let us help. Call the Daphne office of Coumanis & York at 251-990-3083 or call our Mobile office at 251-431-7272.
The Notice Period
First, understand what it means to move out of “the area.” In Alabama, you can generally move up to 60 miles from the other parent’s home without their permission or approval. The state’s Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act aims to preserve the relationship a child has with both parents, even when the parents are no longer (or never were) married. This law strives to prevent one parent from taking the child and moving without notifying the other parent, forcing the other parent to give up parenting time against their will.
Under this law, you must tell the other parent at least 45 days before you plan on moving 60 or more miles from their home. There is an exception to this. If you learn of the move less than 45 days before it is intended to happen—if you are required to relocate for work, for example—you must tell the other parent within ten days.
The notice you present to the other parent should include information about where you will live, the new home’s address, the phone number at the new house, where the child would attend school, an explanation for the move, and a new custody or visitation schedule. The letter should also tell the other parent that they have 30 days to object to the move.
Waiting for an Objection
If the other parent does not object to the move, they can simply wait out the 30-day period. This often happens if the other parent is not involved in the child’s life, is satisfied with the proposed visitation schedule, or is willing to give up parenting time. If they choose to object, they must file their objection with the court. At this point, a court hearing will be scheduled, and you will be required to attend.
How the Court Decides
At this hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to allow the move. A wide range of factors are taken into account, including:
- The current relationship the child shares with each parent
- How much contact the child will get with the other parent if they move
- If the transportation required is a reasonable expectation for both parents
- The child’s age
- The parents’ ability to communicate with each other effectively
- If the move will positively impact the child’s life
- How a move will affect a child’s mental health, emotional wellbeing, academic performance, and other aspects of their life
If you are the relocating parent, prepare for this court hearing well in advance with your attorney. The burden is on you to prove that the move is in the best interests of your child, as the court is unlikely to limit the other parent’s access without good reason to do so. Your attorney can use the evidence you have to create a strong case for your relocation.
What to Do If You Want to Move
Once you know that you want to relocate, talk to your family law attorney in Daphne or Mobile immediately. They can assist in drafting the necessary paperwork, properly notifying the other parent, and preparing for court if the other parent objects.
Contact Coumanis & York to Explore Your Options
Child custody concerns can make even the best co-parenting relationship difficult. If you are struggling with issues like relocation, visitation time, and parenting expectations, our team of family law attorneys is here to help. Schedule a consultation with our team in Mobile or Alabama now—we can be reached online. You can also call our Daphne, AL office at 251-990-3083 or our Mobile, AL office at 251-431-7272.