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How Far Can a Parent Move with Joint Custody in Missouri?


Navigating joint custody relocation laws in Missouri can be challenging, requiring a thorough understanding of the legal framework and a commitment to demonstrating the child’s best interests.

When parents divorce or separate, issues regarding child custody often arise. In Missouri, joint custody is a common arrangement, emphasizing the involvement of both parents in their child’s life. However, when a parent with joint custody contemplates moving, it can raise complex legal questions. Understanding the laws surrounding joint custody relocation in Missouri is crucial for parents navigating this situation.

Relocating with Your Kids After Divorce

Legal Framework

In Missouri, the legal framework for joint custody relocation is outlined in Section 452.377 of the Revised Statutes. This statute governs the process and requirements when a custodial parent seeks to relocate with a child.

Notification Requirement

One of the key provisions under Missouri law is the notification requirement. Before a custodial parent can move with a child, they must provide written notice to the noncustodial parent at least 60 days before the intended move. This notice must include specific details, such as the proposed relocation date, the new address, and a statement explaining the reasons for the move.

Objection and Modification

Upon receiving the notification, the noncustodial parent has the right to object to the relocation. If the noncustodial parent does not object within 30 days, the court may presume that the move is in the child’s best interest, and the relocation may proceed. However, if the noncustodial parent objects, it triggers a legal process that may involve a court hearing.

The court will then assess whether the relocation is in the child’s best interest, considering various factors such as:

  1. The reasons for the move.
  2. The impact on the child’s quality of life and relationship with the noncustodial parent.
  3. The educational opportunities available to the child at the current and proposed locations.
  4. The involvement of each parent in the child’s life.

Best Interests of the Child Standard

In Missouri, the court’s primary focus is on the child’s best interests. The judge will carefully evaluate the circumstances to determine whether the relocation will enhance or adversely affect the child’s well-being. The noncustodial parent’s objection places the burden of proof on the custodial parent to demonstrate that the move is in the child’s best interest.

Potential Outcomes

If the court finds the relocation is in the child’s best interest, it may modify the existing custody arrangement to accommodate the move. This modification could involve adjustments to the visitation schedule, transportation arrangements, or other relevant factors.

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