When parents divorce, one issue that is of paramount importance is child custody. Parents may seek sole custody or joint custody. If sole custody is awarded, that parent would be considered the primary custodial parent. The other parent would be the non-custodial parent and would typically retain some parental rights, such as visitation rights.
In most states, the parent with primary custody may not be able to relocate to a different state, unless the non-custodial parent agrees. This can be true even if the primary custodial parent remarries or if they get a new higher paying job. This is because the visitation rights of a non-custodial parent would be jeopardized. Without an agreement, such situations may develop into a home relocation dispute.
Interestingly, the non-custodial parent does not have any such restriction on relocation. The non-custodial parent is free to move anywhere he or she may wish. However, they will, in effect, be relinquishing their visitation rights, not to mention being further away from their child.
Absent an agreement, it is possible to petition the court to make a determination as to whether or not it is allowable for a primary custodial parent to relocate to a different state. In most cases, however, judges will not grant such a request. In order to convince a judge to allow you to relocate, you must prove that it would be detrimental to your children’s well being to remain in their current living situation. This may be particularly difficult because relocating to a different state would prevent the child from seeing the other parent.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Will He Let You Move?,” Lee Block, 21 Mar 2011