Report No. 257
5.7 When both parents have legal rights regarding a child, relocation disputes can present a challenge. On the one hand, in today's highly mobile society, parents should be allowed to relocate for job opportunities or other important considerations. On the other hand, such relocation can interrupt the other parent's visitation schedule with the child. Courts generally solve such disputes by resorting to several principles.
First, in some jurisdictions, a parent does not need permission (either from the court or the other parent) to relocate if it is only a local move or it would not affect the other parent's visitation schedule.134 Second, a parent who intends to relocate must give advance written notice to the other parent. Virginia, for example, requires thirty days advance written notice.135 This gives the other parent time to contest the move in court. The other key consideration is whether the proposed relocation is in the best interest of the child.136
A court may also consider: whether the relocation is for a legitimate purpose; each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation; the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent; the impact of the relocation on the quantity and the quality of the child's future contact with the non-relocating parent; the degree to which the relocating parent's and the child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the relocation; and the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements.137
134 Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-37(1) ("For purposes of this section, 'relocation' means moving 150 miles or more from the residence of the other parent."); Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-10-129(1)(a)(II) (requiring court approval for relocations "that substantially change[ ] the geographical ties between the child and the other party").
135 VA. CODE ANN. § 20-124.5; see also Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-10-129(1)(a)(II) ("The party who is intending to relocate with the child to a residence that substantially changes the geographical ties between the child and the other party shall provide the other party with written notice as soon as practicable of his or her intent to relocate...."); UTAH CODE ANN. § 30-3-37(2) ("The relocating parent shall provide 60 days advance written notice of the intended relocation to the other parent.").
136 Va. Prac. Family Law § 15:11 (2015 ed.) (discussing relocation standards in Virginia); Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-37(4) ("In a hearing to review the notice of relocation, the court shall, in determining if the relocation of a custodial parent is in the best interest of the child, consider any other factors that the court considers relevant...").
137 CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 46b-56d(b).