Child custody and visitation are frequently some of the most important issues that need to be resolved when a married couple divorces. Sole or joint custody and visitation rights are usually spelled out in the separation agreement or divorce decree, and as long as the situations of both parents do not change afterward then there is usually no need to revisit the matter.
But if there is one thing that can be counted on in life, it is that circumstances change over time. For divorced parents, a circumstance that can warrant revisiting child custody arrangements is when one a custodial parent decides that it is time to move out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and to take the children along. These development can often result in a legal challenge by the noncustodial parent.
Massachusetts’s courts have had ample opportunity to consider factors that must be weighed when deciding whether a custodial parent should be allowed to move out of state with the children. Some of these factors include:
Is the move in the best interest of the children? Will the quality of their lives be improved by the change? Will there be any possible negative effect on them by eliminating or curtailing their contact with the noncustodial parent? Will the move have any effect on the emotional, physical or developmental needs of the children?
Will the custodial parent’s quality of life be positively affected by the move? This can be a consideration in determining whether the relocation is in the best interest of the children.
What are the interests of the noncustodial parent? Although the fact that the noncustodial parent’s visitation rights may be adversely changed is not a controlling factor, the reasonableness of any alternative visitation rights can be considered.
Custodial parent relocation often raises complex questions that an experienced divorce attorney can help to answer and possibly resolve. If the matter is contested, then it is essential to seek legal assistance to deal with the specific child custody issues that arise in either negotiations or through the courts.