Alabama has a statute to address the relocation of one parent after divorce. The new statute took effect in 2003 and governs all relocations occurring after that date, regardless of when the decree became effective. You can read the statute here.
When a custodial parent (CP) wants to move to a new area and take the children along, there is always disappointment and often conflict. On one hand are the interests of the CP and perhaps the children in an improved life in a different area. On the other are the equally legitimate interests of the noncustodial parent (NCP) and perhaps the children in maintaining existing relationships.
In one sense, the statute is a good thing, if for no other reason than because it codifies and clarifies principles that have been unsettled in the past. It provides more certainty when the CP wants to relocate, and in law, there is value in certainty in and of itself.
Under the statute a parent must notify the other parent before moving to a different state or to a location more than 60 miles from the other parent’s address, unless the move brings the children closer to the other parent. The moving parent must use certified mail (FedEx presumably is not acceptable). The notice must occur at least 45 days before the move or within 10 days after learning of the move if later.
The notice must include the address and phone number of the new residence and of the new school the child or children will be attending, the date of the move, the specific reason(s) for the move, a proposal for revising custody and visitation, if any (although the statute offers no guidance about what the parties will do with this information), and a warning that the other parent must object to the move within 30 days or the move will be permitted. If information is missing or unknown at the time of the notice, the parent must supply it as soon as it is available.
After the notice, the other parent has 30 days within which to object (longer upon a showing of good cause or excusable neglect). Upon objection, the court may delay the move until after a hearing.
At the hearing, the judge is to evaluate whether the move is in the best interest of the child, applying factors like the age and maturity of the child, alternative means of communication available, and how much the non-relocationg parent has used visitation in the past.
Unless there has been a finding of domestic violence, the statute sets up a rebuttable presumption that a move is NOT in the best interest of the child. Once the relocating parent overcomes this presumption (presumably by showing benefits available to the child at the new residence that are not available now), the burden shifts to the non-relocating parent.
Second, the statute requires the CP in most cases to notify the NCP 45 days before moving (this has always been the courteous thing to do but has not been required before) and gives the NCP the right to demand a hearing about whether the move is in the best interest of the children.
Third, the presumption that a move is not in the child’s best interest is a fundamental change from existing law, under which the judge simply considers the best interest of the child. Existing law makes no presumption of any kind.
Alabama Child Relocation Attorney
As a divorced parent with children, moving for a better job, or for a spouse’s better job, for education or for whatever good reason – this will impact your custody arrangements. The court may need to approve your move and any necessary changes in the parenting and custody plan for the children. Alabama law dictates that the court’s decision will be based on the best interests of the child.
- Relocation needs court approval when a parent is moving out of state with a child or within Alabama but 60 miles from the child’s current home.
- You must notify the other parent by certified mail, 45 days in advance, if you plan to move 60 or more miles from your current residence. The law requires certain specific details in this written notification.
- The non-relocating parent can object to the move and ask the court to prevent the move or modify custody.
- The parents will need to develop a revised custody plan and parenting time plan that fits the new circumstances and that meets the court’s approval.
When a custodial parent moves away, what happens to custody and parenting time plans?
“I already moved away without notifying my spouse or the court. What do I do now?”
“I can’t find my divorce judgment papers, and haven’t ever seen the parenting and custody plan.”
“Can my ex-husband stop me from moving?”
Despite many good online FAQs and how-to’s which can give you a good general background, this is one area in which you do not want to try a do-it-yourself approach. Attorneys Dani Bone & Sam Bone can explain the Alabama Parent-Child Relocation Act and how it affects your specific situation. Whether you are the relocating parent or the stay-behind parent, our law firm can explain your rights and obligations, in order to avoid many headaches in the future.
Child Relocation & Parental Moves
After the divorce decree is final, circumstances can change. When a parent and child relocate, that is a change that requires a change in the custody and parenting time plan. Call 256-547-1005 or contact us by email to discuss your situation. Every case is different, because every family is different. Know the law about parent-child relocation. Talk to a Gadsden family lawyer.