When parents seek a divorce or to establish paternity or custody of their child, a geographical restriction that the child must live within will typically be implemented by the court. The geographical restrictions established by the court or the parents could restrict the child’s residence to a specific county, multiple counties near where the suit takes place, or a specific school district.
Even if there are not yet any court orders restricting the child’s residence to a specific area, if both parents have been living with or near the child, one is likely to be ordered by the court if a dispute arises over the area the does or may child live in.
Generally, a geographical restriction only applies when the non-custodial parent resides within the area designated in the geographical restriction. If the non-custodial parent moves outside that area after the order is entered, the restriction no longer applies.
IMPLEMENTING A GEOGRAPHICAL RESTRICTION
When initially establishing a geographical restriction, both parents should carefully consider any requests to the court or offers of settlement made to the other parent regarding the area selected.
- If the area is too large, it could allow the one of the parents parent to move quite some distance from the other parent’s residence without violating the restriction. This could make it more difficult or more expensive for the non-custodial parent to visit the child regularly.
- If the area is too small, it could make it more likely that the restriction will be negated entirely by a move outside that designated area by the non-custodial parent.
SEEKING TO RELOCATE OR TO PREVENT RELOCATION
If you are seeking to relocate with your child outside the area where the child currently lives, you are required to notify the non-custodial parent of your intent to move. The non-custodial parent then has the right to challenge your ability to move with the child by filing suit with the court.
If you anticipate that the non-custodial parent will challenge your right to move, you will need to be prepared to show the court that you should be allowed to move. The following factors could be convincing to the court:
- The non-custodial parent has and has not regularly visited with the child or been involved in their life.
- The non-custodial parent has a history of being physically abusive towards you or the child or a pattern of threatening or harassing you or the child.
- The non-custodial parent is involved in criminal activity or is abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Relocating would benefit the child somehow, such as allowing them to be closer to extended family or to attend a higher rated school.
- You have lost your job and, despite your best efforts, you have been unable to find a similar position within the area of the geographical restriction.
- You have remarried and your spouse has received a promotion or been transferred to another area.
Conversely, if you are the non-custodial parent and you hope to prevent the request to relocate from being granted, you will need to be prepared to respond to any arguments that the custodial parent may make based on the factors above. It may also be helpful to show the court how the move will adversely affect you or the child.
Brandi Underwood has represented parents seeking authorization to relocate as well as parents seeking to enforce or establish a geographical restriction. She can answer any questions that you may have about the benefits and hazards of establishing either a broad or restrictive geographical restriction. Brandi Underwood can also provide direction on the most effective evidence and arguments to make when seeking to obtain or prevent relocation. If you are involved in a divorce, paternity suit, custody case or modification, contact Brandi Underwood to discuss all your options.