Whether you got a new job or there is another compelling reason, you may have to consider how moving away will affect the child’s other parent. Generally, if your ex has custody of the kids at least some of the time, you probably have a joint legal and physical custody order.
If you do, you can’t move your children out of state without either 1) written permission from their other parent or 2) a modification of your child custody order signed by a judge. If you move your kids without getting permission from either your ex or the court, your ex could sue you. That could result in your having to return to North Carolina and changes to your child custody order that you don’t want. You might even have to pay your ex’s legal fees and court costs.
Try to get your ex’s agreement first
The easiest way to move out of state with your kids is to ask their other parent for written permission to do so. However, without getting the court to modify your custody order, you would have to comply with the existing order – and that could be a challenge.
For example, if your ex gets to have the kids every other week, this would still be a court order unless you get a modification. If you moved to Florida, you would need to send your kids back every other week.
Therefore, it is essential to get not only your ex’s permission but also a modification of your custody order that takes your move into account. The modification can be done by consent as long as everyone agrees to the change in your order.
In order to get a child custody modification, you need to show a change in circumstances. Unfortunately, the move itself may not be considered enough in and of itself. Talk to your attorney about what proof you will need to show that a change to the custody order is needed. If you have an agreement to change the order, then you can simply ask the court to adopt your agreement with a modified order.
If that doesn’t work, ask the court
If your move qualifies as a change of circumstances, you can ask the court to modify your existing order. Although the courts try to be expeditious in child custody cases, this could take some time. Your lawyer and your ex’s lawyer will make arguments about whether a modification is needed and, if it is, what custodial arrangement is in the best interest of your children. Following a hearing, the judge will issue a new custody order.
North Carolina still has jurisdiction over your case
Due to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), a law passed by all the states except Massachusetts, child custody cases generally remain in the kids’ home state. In other words, North Carolina will continue to have jurisdiction over your child custody order once you move to the new state.
If new issues require a modification or if there is a dispute, you will have to come back to North Carolina. Although it is possible to have jurisdiction transferred to your new home state, North Carolina’s jurisdiction will continue until it is relinquished by the court.
Moving away with your kids can be a complex legal issue. Work with an attorney who will go the extra mile to ensure your legal rights, and the interests of your children, are protected.