If you and the other parent of your child do not live together, you may find it is challenging to come to agreements on many important matters regarding your child. For you, as the noncustodial parent, the situation may be even more frustrating. Your time with your child is limited, and you want to make every moment count.
You may have been shocked to learn that your co-parent is planning a move. Perhaps your former partner has married or has found a new job in another state. Maybe he or she is moving closer to family. While those reasons may be important to your spouse, what matters to you are your legal rights as a parent of the child.
Do you consent to the move?
Since the laws in each state may be slightly different, it is always best to seek legal advice where your rights are concerned. When it comes to the welfare of your child, you would not want to make critical mistakes during your co-parent's bid for relocation and damage your chances of having your say in court.
The best-case scenario is that your parenting partner approached you to discuss the proposed move. If the two of you came to an agreeable arrangement, there may be no need for further action except to have the custody modifications approved by the court. However, if you do not consent to the relocation of your child, you have the right to protest.
In general, Missouri law requires your child's other parent to notify you of his or her intentions to move with the child within 30 days of the move. The notification must include as many specific details as your former partner knows, such as the name of the new city and the address and telephone number of the new residence.
The court will also want to see your ex-partner's plan for ensuring that you will be able to maintain your visitation rights, which may mean travel arrangements for the child and fewer but extended visits. Your say in these arrangements may be contingent on the amount of time and attention you gave to the child prior to the announcement of relocation.
Proving your case
It will be the other parent's burden to prove that moving away with your child is in the child's best interests. It is not enough for your child's parent to simply want a change of scenery or to get away from you, and he or she will have to prove to the court that this is not the reason for the relocation.
You will also have an opportunity to show that the move will be detrimental to the child and to your ongoing relationship as a parent. If the court rules in the other parent's favor, you may be able to fight for a reasonable settlement that allows you regular contact with your child.