When you initially got divorced, you and your spouse agreed to a custody agreement that assumed the two of you would stay in Missouri indefinitely. While this may be the case for many families, there’s always a chance that one parent will need or want to move out of state in the future. So, how does that out-of-state move impact the custody agreement your Missouri divorce lawyer helped you reach?
The State Has a Statute in Place
Missouri has a relocation statute in place (R.S.Mo. § 452.377) that prohibits custodial parents from moving their child out of state for more than 90 days without providing notice to the court of the relocation. The statute also stipulates that if the parent moves the child without providing notice and the other parent disagrees with the move, the court can order the return of the child and modify the custody or visitation agreements to accommodate the needs of the non-custodial parent.
The Moving Parent Must Give Notice
As mentioned above, the moving parent must provide the court with written notice of the planned move. This notice should include the following information:
- The city the parent is moving to
- The new physical and mailing addresses if available
- The date of the move
- The reason for moving the child
- A proposed revised custody agreement
Additional information may be required, but your Missouri divorce lawyer will help you figure out what else you need to provide.
The Parent Staying in Missouri Must File a Motion if They Object
If the parent staying in Missouri agrees with the move and doesn’t wish to object to the moving parent’s plans or their proposed custody agreement, the moving parent can proceed without issue. But if the parent staying in Missouri takes issue with the move, they need to file a motion with the court within 30 days of the other parent submitting notice to the court.
The motion should indicate why you disagree with the relocation and may include a proposed custody agreement that accommodates both parties.
Once you submit a motion of objection to the move, you’ll need to attend a hearing during which a judge will decide what works best for your child. Remember, it’s their goal to ensure that your child gets the support and care they need to thrive. If they determine that it’s in the child’s best interest to stay in Missouri, they may not approve the move and could reevaluate your custody agreement.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Just Pack up and Move With Your Child
Regardless of what you’re considering or what you think is best for your child, make sure to follow the legal process. The last thing you want to do is end up losing custody or not being able to move because you took your child out of state without notifying the court.
Work With an Experienced Missouri Divorce Lawyer
Moving out of state while navigating a divorce can be difficult but when you have children to worry about, it can be even harder. The best way to set yourself up for success and reduce the stress of dealing with questions of custody and visitation is to work with an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer.
At Columbia Family Law Group, we’ll do everything we can to make your divorce as stress-free as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.