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Relocation and your child custody order

Oregon parents who file for modifications to their court-ordered custody must demonstrate that any changes will benefit the children and not only the parent making the request. This may be especially true when it comes to questions of relocation.

If you are planning to move within or outside the state of Oregon, you may have your work cut out for you to convince a judge that it is best for your children. What may complicate your plans is if your co-parent does not consent to the move. Your plans to move may be well-intentioned, but the court will decide if they are in the children's best interests.

Why courts frown on relocation

Generally, a move within a certain distance from your co-parent's residence will not be an issue. However, if you expect to move farther away, typically within an hour's drive, you will have to prove it is best for the children.

Since a move may infringe on the other parent's custody or visitation time, you will have to show the court how you intend to ensure your children will still spend the appropriate amount of time with their other parent. Keep in mind that moving more than an hour away may make it difficult for the other parent to attend events like sports, recitals or parent-teacher conferences, and your former partner is likely to bring this up in court.

Factors the court will consider

Relocating is not impossible. You must begin by notifying your co-parent of your plans within Oregon's required notification time. If your ex does not consent to the move, you must be well-prepared to present your case to the court. The court will consider the following and other factors in making a decision:

  • How far will the children have to travel to spend time with their other parent?
  • Will the move improve the educational opportunities for the children?
  • Will the move provide adequate chances for the children to pursue their interests?
  • Will the children's quality of life improve enough to justify separation from their other parent?
  • What are the children's opinions about the move?

As you can see, the relocation of your children away from their other parent cannot simply be for your personal interests, such as a new job or to be closer to your own family, unless it also benefits the children. A legal advocate can assist you in presenting a strong case to support your reasons for relocating.

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