Co-parenting after a divorce is a unique challenge. The greatest challenge for many ex-spouses dealing with co-parenting is custody agreements and visitation. Usually, the court tries to get ahead of any future issues that may arise, including relocation.

What Is Relocation?

Relocation is when the parent with primary custody, or a parent that shares custody evenly, moves 50 miles or more away from their residence with the child or children named in a custody agreement. To be considered relocation, a move must last at minimum 60 days. Temporary absences, such as for education, medical treatment, or vacationing do not count as relocation.

Let’s look at an example. There is a divorced couple with a single child living in Tampa, and the mother has custody. If she takes the child on a week long trip to Washington D.C., that is not relocation. Unless the trip interferes with pre-planned visitation or other court appointed time with dad, she does not have to get permission. However, if she wants to move with the child to Washington D.C., that is a different matter.

Why Do Parents Relocate?

Relocation can happen for a number of reasons. After a divorce especially, it is perfectly natural to want a fresh start. For some people, the desire for a fresh start is enough to move. However, parents will generally not pull up their children’s roots, so relocations are not as common as one might think.

Many people move to be closer to their families or loved ones. It is natural if they feel some familial bonds dissolving, they will want to strengthen others. The other most common reason for relocation is economic opportunity. If a parent feels that a job some distance away can improve the economic situation for them and their child, it is likely that they’ll pursue it.

What Happens When A Parent Decides To Relocate?

A custodial parent must obtain permission from the court to relocate. Everyone must go through a custody hearing where a new custodial agreement will be established. Factors such as how the child will see their non-custodial parent, and how much time they’ll spend away from the custodial parent are important variables in the decision.