Connecticut Child Custody and Parental Relocation
Westport CT Family Law Attorney
One of the primary reasons a spouse may seek to formally file for divorce is to regain their independence. Part of this independence may include a desire to move to a new geographic location—new friends, new life, and new opportunities. However, if you are in the middle of a divorce proceeding or if you have a finalized divorce decree that dictates your child custody arrangement, you may feel stuck if you want to continue seeing your children. However, an experienced divorce and post-judgment modification attorney can help you understand your legal options and allow you to move freely without sacrificing your family.
Moving and Pending Divorce Proceedings
It is best to avoid moving out of jurisdiction during divorce proceedings, especially when children are involved. Consider this: you are fighting to prove to the court that you should have custody of your children, but you are not present to fight for them. It is much more convincing when people can take an active role in their case and do everything they can to demonstrate the lengths they will go in order to maintain a significant relationship with their children. Additionally, moving during the proceedings may have an adverse effect on the custody arrangement if your child currently lives, attends school, and has obligations in the current jurisdiction—moving may limit your parental rights and responsibilities significantly if moving is found to be against the best interests of the child at that point in time.
As with all things, of course, there are exceptions. Perhaps your job has been relocated across state, or you lost your job and have an offer at an office outside of town. How are you going to support your child once custody is awarded without a job? While moving out of the area is not necessarily fatal to your child custody case, not being honest with the court is. Be sure to inform the court (and, of course, your lawyer) of your pending employment opportunities as well as any dates you already know you will not be able to attend court. Missing court on mandatory days can be detrimental to your case, but being clear about your schedule upfront can really assist in avoiding any serious issues arising out of your necessary absence. If you are moving for an extended period of time, then you will need to consider proving to the court that the child should be relocated with you, and that it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
Moving and Post-Divorce Judgments
Planning a move during divorce proceedings or after a final judgment may come with some complications, but it is certainly possible to do so without damaging your relationship with your child. According to Connecticut law, if a parent’s relocation would have a “significant impact on an existing parenting plan” the parent that is relocating must prove to the court that:
- The relocation is for a legitimate purpose (such as work, care of family member);
- The proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose; and
- The relocation is in the best interests of the child.
Though, of course, each of these considerations is contemplated by the court, it is always the best interests of the child that are the paramount factor. The court will also consider, in accordance with Connecticut General Statute Section 46b-56d(b):
- Each parent’s reasons for seeking (or opposing) the relocation;
- Type and quality of pre-existing relationships between the child and each parent;
- The impact of the relocation on the relationship with the non-relocating parent;
- The economic, educational, and emotional impact on the child due to the relocation; and
- The feasibility of maintaining the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through reasonable visitation.
Each of these considerations always comes back to the best interest of the child. There is generally a presumption that in most circumstances, maintaining a relationship with both parents is preferable for the child, unless there is suspected abuse or other underlying reasons that this should not be the case. While moving may require a few more court dates, it is definitely possible to relocate and still maintain a relationship with your child with the right legal assistance.
Westport, Connecticut Child Custody Attorney
Regardless of whether you are currently working with your spouse to create a child custody arrangement or if you are thinking of modifying your pre-existing divorce decree, experienced Connecticut family law attorney Richard H. Raphael can help. Mr. Raphael has experience with various divorce cases, including complex cases involving children, relocation, and post-decree modification. He will take the time to listen to your unique situation and advise you regarding the best course of action so that you can maintain a relationship with your child. Contact his Westport, Connecticut office today to learn more about your legal rights today and to learn more about seizing your independence without losing your relationship with your child.