In cases where the opposing party agrees with the relocation, a parenting plan must then be submitted to the court.
In our first article, we addressed what it means to relocate with your child or children before, during or after a divorce, child custody case or a modification. We explained the requirements for doing this in accordance with the law.
In this second article, we will discuss the case where the opposing party agrees with the relocation.
What is a Parenting Plan?
In those cases where the opposing party agrees with the relocation, Missouri Revised Statute, Section 452.377 provides a way for the parties to submit a parenting plan to the court as follows:
If the parties agree to a revised schedule of custody and visitation for the child, which includes a parenting plan, they may submit the terms of such agreement to the court with a written affidavit signed by all parties with custody or visitation assenting to the terms of the agreement, and the court may order the revised parenting plan and applicable visitation schedule without a hearing.
Your lawyer can help you draft the new proposed parenting plan, accounting for the new location, the new visitation schedule, location of the exchanges, protocols for communicating via FaceTime, Skype, etc., determining who pays for airfare if necessary, or the sharing of travel expenses. If the parent relocating has sole physical custody under the terms of the judgment, the child or children will already have the legal authority to attend school wherever that parent relocates under this scenario. If for example, the parents have a joint physical and joint legal judgment, and the party designated residential parent for the purpose of school and mailing is relocating, by agreement, then the new parenting plan should reflect that designation remains, specifically identifying the school district to avoid any ambiguity.
The Counter Affidavit
What happens if you provide notice and the opposing files their objection within the required thirty days? You will have to file within fourteen days a response, setting forth via a counter-affidavit the facts in support of your relocation as well as your proposed parenting plan for your relocation.
In practice, however, what we see most often (and what usually makes more sense) is that the party wanting to relocate files a Motion to Modify. This is a more thorough method than the counter affidavit as it allows you to address the financial issues that are usually connected with relocation as well such as child support. It also allows you to readdress the issue of legal custody as in some relocations, joint legal can become impractical.
What is the Reason for Relocating?
If the matter becomes contested, the parent moving to relocate has the burden to prove that relocation (or more accurately the proposed relocation) is in good faith and in in the best interest of the child. As a general rule, the Courts have considered proposed relocations to be in good faith if the reason for relocating is not to deprive the other of custody. In other words, the Court wants to know what the motivation for the proposed relocation is. As you will guess, one needs to articulate a reasonable justification for the proposed move.
Some classic reasons encountered frequently are:
- Moving for a new job
- Moving because the new spouse gets a new or better job
- Moving back to a home state to be near family
- Being posted to a new military installation
- Moving to live in the new spouses home town
If the Court is convinced the proposed move is in good faith, it must next be convinced that the move would be in the best interest of the minor child or children. In the simplest terms, this can come down to convincing that the child is better off living predominately with the relocating parent. Determining that question involves many elements.
An experienced lawyer can guide you through this process and help set you up for success. Proposed relocations are high stake affairs. In many cases, if approved, one parent will have significantly reduced access to the children and the expenses associated with the increased distance.
Contact a St. Louis Family Law Attorney
In matters pertaining to family law, our firm understands that resolving issues through mediation and negotiation will yield better results for both parties. Our team of attorneys is available around the clock to answer your questions and address your concerns. We understand how important your family is to you and make it a point to keep you and all concerned parties informed during each stage of the process.
Please call our St. Louis office today at (314) 801-8488 or fill out our online contact form to request a free and private consultation.