Moving with your kids to a completely new city is always challenging, but it can be even harder for a family that’s dealing with divorce. If you have decided to move outside of Massachusetts after getting a divorce, and you are sharing child custody, it might be wise to consult with a lawyer first.
As a divorced parent in Massachusetts, relocating with your kids to another state is a process that requires more than packing up your stuff. For example, if your child has lived in the state for 5 years or is a native of Massachusetts, and you share their custody with your ex-spouse, you may not be able to move the child outside the state without going through a series of legal motions.
This is where a skilled Massachusetts family attorney like Jay Davis comes in. He, along with his team of efficient legal consultants at Davis Law Group, have helped thousands of divorced parents navigate the tricky waters of shared custody since 1998.
Remember, the agreements you reach during this delicate time can significantly impact the rest of your life, including your ability to spend time with your children. So, choose an experienced family attorney who understands the intricacies of common child custody issues in Massachusetts.
If you’re planning to move with your kids outside of MA, and the legal situation is not looking favorable, contact us at 617-221-3548 or get in touch with us online for a no-obligation, free consultation.
Notice to the Non-Moving Parent
Before you finalize the decision to relocate with your child, you must send the non-moving parent a written notice about your intention. This notice will give your ex-spouse an opportunity to object, and if they do, then both of you will need to go to the court and ask a judge to block or allow the relocation.
However, if the other parent has no objection to your moving with the kids, you’ll need to write down the agreement and take it to the local courthouse.
There are no specific guidelines in the Massachusetts laws regarding what type of written notice you need to give, or how far in advance you need to send it. But generally speaking, you should include the following things in the written notice you send to the other parent:
- The date you want to move
- The reason for the move
- Your new address
We always support the position that states this notice should be given as far in advance as possible – the only exception being that you’re afraid the notice would endanger your child or you. In that case, you are entitled to go to the courthouse and ask for help.
If the non-moving parent objects to the move, either one of them can go to the court and request for an order either blocking or allowing the relocation. Do NOT move away with the kids if your ex-spouse disagrees and you haven’t received the court approval. Hasty decisions like that can prove detrimental in the long-run and can land you into legal hot water.
How will the Court Decide on Child Relocation?
It depends. The Court will factor in a variety of elements while making the final decision. However, the most important element is always the child’s best interests. If the judge determines that the move would not benefit the child, they will not permit it.
Massachusetts family courts have two different types of processes to define a child’s best interests in these situations:
“Best Interests” Analysis
If the divorced parents have joint custody, the court will perform a standard “best interests analysis” for the child involved. In other words, the judge will look at solid evidence regarding the following questions:
- How will the move affect the child’s quality of life? Will the relocation improve the child’s life as much as it will the moving parent’s (considering the parent is moving away to pursue better job or educational opportunities; or to enter into a new marriage/relationship)?
- How will the move affect the child visitation schedule? Will it negatively impact the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent?
- How will the move affect the physical, emotional, and developmental needs of the child?
- What are each parent’s motives in allowing or blocking the relocation?
- Is there a mutually-satisfying way to create a new custody arrangement that will allow the non-moving parent to maintain a close relationship with the child?
In the case your ex-spouse disagrees to the out-of-state move, it is crucial for you to hire a MA family attorney who is trained in child custody issues. Jay Davis has successfully provided mediation to many divorced parents to help them reach a mutually-beneficial agreement outside of court.
And if this mediation fails, Jay can effectively petition the court to grant you the request to move the children without your ex’s permission. Even if the non-moving parent agrees to the move, you should still talk to Jay and his team to help you submit the acknowledgement of consent. You can get a completely free legal consultation by calling at 617-221-3548 or simply contact us online.
“Real Advantage” Standard
When one parent is the primary custodian, the MA court performs a “real advantage standard” to the case. This criteria is based on the assumption that when the child spends most of the time with one parent, their happiness becomes closely interlaced with that parent’s happiness and welfare.
So, the judge will decide whether the move will be good for the child based on two questions:
- Is the move in the best interests if the child? (the judge will consider the ‘best interest’ factors mentioned above to answer this question)
- Is there a clear advantage or a good reason for the relocation? (to answer this question, the court will look for evidence about availability of a better job, easier access to extended family, or the desire to move with a new spouse — the reason for relocating outside MA must be ‘sound’, i.e., it must offer a strong advantage for the child and the moving parent)
Keep in mind that if the judge finds you are simply moving away to cut your ex-spouse out of your child’s life, your petition will be denied. Instead of letting your anger and frustration rule you and then possibly regretting the decision for the rest of your life, talk to an attorney!
Schedule a Consultation with Davis Law Group Today!
“Highly recommend to anyone in need of legal help. Jay, Annie and team are super friendly and helpful. I can personally guarantee, from experience, they will bend over backwards and do everything within their power to get you the results you deserve.” — Jamie Hance
You may have an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse and they may even agree for the relocation, but you’d be surprised to know how many non-moving parents later request the custodial parents to return the children. In these situations, relying on verbal agreements and/or not hiring an expert lawyer to guide you, can come back to haunt you later.
At Davis Law Group, Jay understands how family courts work and what’s the best way to ensure the final outcome is in your favor. He and his team of highly resourceful legal associates have been helping divorced parents through emotionally-trying child custody cases for over 21 years.
If you have decided that relocating your child is the best way to move forward, contact us at 617- 221-3548 or leave us a message here. We’d love to assist you during this process so you don’t have to go through another emotionally-draining event after your divorce.
James H. (Jay) Davis III
Thank you for reading. Need to talk? 617-221-3548