St. Louis Divorce Lawyers

St. Louis Family Law: Relocating with Children During a Divorce Part 1

If you are considering relocating with your child or children before, during or after a divorce, it is advised that you speak to a family law attorney first.

St. Louis Family Law

If you are considering relocating with your child or children before, during or after a divorce, child custody case or modification, you are strongly advised to speak with an experienced family law attorney. The decisions you make before, during and after can have serious implications.

In this first part, we will address relocation in the context of a parent who already has a judgment but now decides to move.

What it Means to Relocate

According to Missouri Revised Statute, Section 452.377.1, “relocate” or “relocation” means a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of ninety days or more, but does not include a temporary absence from the principal residence. In other words, we’re not talking about leaving for a vacation, we are not talking about moving out for a month while a kitchen addition is completed, we are talking about a serious, consequential move, one meant to be permanent.

When talking about relocation cases, in family law, we generally think of those as cases where the parents have an existing judgment and parenting plan, and one of the parents has decided that she or he wants or needs to relocate to a residence different from that residence where she or he resided at the time of the original judgment.

A parent who wishes to relocate has an obligation under the law to provide the other parent with notice of their intent to relocate. How does one do this? Who gets noticed? There are strict statutory elements that must be followed in order to provide proper notice, along with potential consequences if you fail to give proper notice. It is recommended to consult with a family law attorney for assistance with this.

What are the Notice Requirements?

As set forth in Missouri Revised Statute, Section 452.377, a notice of a proposed relocation of the residence of the child, or any party entitled to custody or visitation of the child, shall be given in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested, to any party with custody or visitation rights. I know what you’re thinking: certified mail? Yes. Even though e-mail, facebook, or text messaging might be more efficient, and even more likely to get to your “ex”, the statute is clear on this matter. We recommend adding in one of these additional measures, such as sending a scanned copy of the letter as an e-mail attachment, but you still MUST send a certified letter to be in compliance with the statute.

What Information Must You Provide?

When providing the notice, here are 5 elements that you need to include:

  1. The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city
  2. The home telephone number of the new residence, if known
  3. The date of the intended move or proposed relocation
  4. A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child, if applicable
  5. A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child, if applicable

Following these five elements is both straight forward and not. It is best to allow your lawyer to help you draft the notice. He or she will have experience in court defending the adequacy of relocation notice to a judge. We have seen notices that on first look, seemed to comply but the judge determined differently.

When do You Have to Provide this Notice?

At least sixty days in advance of your proposed relocation. The opposing party then has thirty days to respond. If they fail to file a motion seeking an order to prevent relocation, then the relocation is approved.

Contact a St. Louis Family Law Attorney

If you are thinking of relocating with your child or children, please contact The Betz Law Firm first. Our team has been involved in relocation cases on both sides of the issue. If you are able to present a good reason why relocation is beneficial, we can help you build your argument.

If you are a non-custodial parent fighting for your right to be an active part of your child’s life, we will be your advocate in court.

Call us today at (314) 801-8488 or fill out our online contact form to request a free and private consultation.