What happens with custody and visitation if you must move out of state? Oklahoma Law is very specific about how this must be handled and Allen & Mills frequently litigates relocation issues with the Court.
Relocation or moving more than 75 miles away, is covered by two Oklahoma statutes, 43 O.S. § 112.2A and 43 O.S. § 112.3. The first states that the Custodial Parent has Presumptive Right to Relocate. “A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change his residence, subject to the power of the district court to restrain a removal which would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.” The second statute is a procedural guide that sets out the steps one must take when relocating and explains that a relocation must be in good faith or the Court could prohibit the custodial person from moving with the child.
NOTICE OF RELOCATION
If you are moving, whether you are the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent, or you have joint custody, a Notice of Relocation in writing must be provided to the other parent. The notice must be sent as soon as the move is known, but no later than 60 days before the intended move. The law has a very specific requirement as to what the notice must contain. Some of the required information includes your new address, specific date of move and a proposed revised visitation schedule.
OBJECTION TO RELOCATION
After receipt of the Notice of Relocation, the non-relocating party must file an Objection with the Court to prevent the move. The Court must then decide whether the moving parent can move with the child, first a temporary hearing and then at a final hearing or trial.
REASONS FOR RELOCATION
There are many reasons for a move. You could be moving for a new job, have received a work transfer, or have better employment offers elsewhere. The move could be due to remarriage or the desire to return home and be closer to family. The reason for the move is what matters most and will be the primary issue the Court looks at to determine good faith.
If you meet the burden of establishing the move is in good faith, then it is burden of proof shifts and the party opposing the move must prove that the move is not in the child’s best interest. 43 O.S. 112.3 J lists those factors as:
“the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the person proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating person, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life,
the age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child,
the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating person and the child through suitable visitation arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties,
the child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child,
whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the person seeking the relocation, either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the nonrelocating person,
whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial party seeking the relocation and the child, including but not limited to financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity,
the reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation, and any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.”
THE LIKELIHOOD of RELOCATION
In most cases a person with full legal custody will be allowed to move with the child. To stop this, the non-relocating parent must show that the move is for the purpose of harming or preventing the child from seeing the non-relocating parent, engaging in parental alienation or the like. This would be considered a bad faith move. Relocation litigation is extremely complex. However, often it is necessary when there are two parents who want to have a close relationship with their child. Allen & Mills will discuss the specifics of your relocation case and advise you in the best approach during this challenging time. Contact our firm to schedule your initial consultation.