Many people want to move and start their lives over after a divorce. However, a move to a new state is a bigger change after a divorce, especially if children are involved. The fact of your divorce agreement means there are several issues to consider before relocating out of state after a divorce.
Your divorce agreement stands as a legal order, and you may need to have a judge alter its contents before you move to another state. A judge will require good reason and, in some cases, your ex-spouse’s agreement to do so. This becomes even more complex if children are involved.
We suggest contacting your divorce lawyer or a divorce attorney from Charles Ullman and Associates in Raleigh, N.C. if you are considering moving out of state while divorced. We can review issues specific to your move and how they may affect your divorce agreement. If you need the court to revise your divorce agreement, we can help you petition the court to modify the divorce agreement. If your ex-spouse plans a move out of state that adversely affects your visitation rights or your children’s welfare, we can help you contest the move.
Relocating Your Home and Children After a Divorce
Your life after being divorced is regulated in many ways by your divorce agreement. Divorce agreements often set some parameters as to where each spouse may live, particularly if you and your ex-spouse have children.
If you are the custodial parent, your divorce agreement may state how far away you can move without modifying the agreement. It may specifically say you cannot move out of state with your children.
When there is no specific wording, your primary consideration as you plan to move out of state is whether the move will disrupt other conditions of your divorce agreement.
The most common problem is that a move out of state disrupts the noncustodial parent’s ability to visit their children as the divorce agreement specifies. For example, the distance may make visits too costly and/or too time-consuming for a noncustodial parent who also has obligations to a job and elderly parents.
This could be a reason for your ex-spouse to challenge the move as a violation of the divorce agreement.
Financial and Emotional Impact of Moving Out of State After a Divorce
As you plan to move out of state, you should also consider the cost of living in your intended new home. The cost of living in North Carolina is a little lower than the average for U.S. states. Moving is typically expensive. If your divorce agreement includes support payments, they don’t change without a judge’s order. You could really feel financially strapped if you suddenly have a higher cost of living for yourself and your children.
The aftermath of a divorce can be harder if you move away from your support network too soon. It can be hard on your children as well, particularly teenagers who have roots in your current community. Feelings of separation will compound on holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions.
On the other hand, post-divorce conflict between ex-spouses can be more stressful for children. If your relationship with your former spouse is contentious and frightening to your child, an out-of-state relocation may be an effective “geographic cure.”
Gaining Approval to Move Out of State After a Divorce
It is likely that you will require some modification of your divorce agreement to move out of state. A family law attorney with Charles Ullman and Associates can review your agreement and your plans for relocating out of state and advise you.
It is always best if you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement before asking the court to modify your divorce agreement, especially if you plan to request changes in a child custody order. We can work with you and your ex-spouse and his or her attorney to try to come to an agreement.
In North Carolina, you can ask a family law court to modify the terms of your divorce and/or child custody agreement. This requires a hearing before a judge at which, if necessary, you and witnesses for you may testify.
In most cases, a judge will only modify a divorce agreement if there has been a “substantial and material change in circumstances.” The relocation to another state is typically seen as a substantial and material change. If the move means you need additional changes, such as changes to support payments, you will need to be able to show the judge a valid reason, such as moving to care for elderly parents.
If your request would change child custody orders, including visitation arrangements, the court will make its decision based on what would serve the child’s best interests. A judge who decides the change would not be good for the child could conceivably block your move or require significant changes in custody arrangements to allow you to move out of state.
However, if you have physical custody of the child, the court previously judged you to be the parent best able to meet the child’s daily needs, which includes deciding where the child should live, so this would weigh in your favor.
Among the factors a judge will consider are:
- Your reasons for moving
- Whether you planned the move in good faith
- Advantages relocation offers the child, including available educational opportunities and overall quality of life
- How moving out of state could interfere with the noncustodial parent’s visitation
- Whether a realistic visitation schedule can be established for the noncustodial parent
- The likelihood that you will comply with new visitation orders
- How well your child is currently adjusted to their home and community
- Any other factor the judge deems relevant.
Speak to a Divorce Attorney Today
Let a divorce attorney from Charles Ullman and Associates in Raleigh, N.C., review your divorce agreement and advise you about modifying it for a move out of state. Our attorneys can help you gain approval to move or help you block a move out of state by an ex-spouse that impinges on your rights as a parent.
For more information or to schedule a confidential consultation with our Raleigh divorce lawyers regarding your options, contact us by calling us at (919) 829-1006 or by filling out our online contact form.