Cincinnati Family Law & Divorce Blog: Can I Relocate with my children?

Whether or not a parent can move or relocate with their children is a common question both before and after divorce. The answer to this question varies depending on whether the divorce has already occurred and if so, what the terms of the parenting plan provide regarding relocation. First, if you have not already terminated your marriage and neither parent has filed for divorce, there are no legal restrictions on a parent’s ability to move. Either parent is legally permitted to move with the children to any location he or she wishes. However, if such a move occurs without the other parent’s agreement or consent, this will likely cause the non-relocating parent to file for divorce and seek an order from the Court providing for the return of the children to their previous home. While not guaranteed, such orders are commonly granted because Courts prefer to maintain the status quo for the children while a divorce is pending. Any decision regarding the children’s relocation would be made after a full hearing on the matter.

At the time either parent files for divorce, the Court issues automatic temporary restraining orders. These orders include a restriction upon either parent from relocating with the children outside of a certain area while the divorce is pending. The specific area is different in each county, but it is commonly limited to the county where the divorce was filed, or a certain mile radius.

At the conclusion of a divorce or dissolution, the parents will have either have a legal document outlining their parenting agreements or the Court’s orders regarding parenting. In almost all cases, the final agreement or Court order will include some limitation on the children’s relocation. Most commonly, it will restrict either parent from relocating with the children outside of some defined area (such as certain counties, or a mile-radius from a particular location such as the other parent’s home, or the children’s school). If either parent wishes to relocate within the specified area, that parent does not need the permission of the other parent or the Court to do so. He or she would simply notify the other parent and the Court of the new address. However, if a parent wishes to relocate outside of the defined area, he or she would either need the consent of the other parent, or permission from the Court. Therefore, if the other parent does not agree, the parent wishing to relocate must file a motion with the Court asking for permission before he/she moves. Relocating with the children without either the consent of the other parent or permission from the Court would be a violation of the Court order and could lead to a finding of contempt of Court, which can include an order of attorney’s fees or court costs to be paid to the other party. Such a move without an agreement or a Court order would also be considered if either parent is seeking modifications to custody and/or parenting time.

In some cases, one parent has been designated as the residential parent and legal custodian of the children and there are no restrictions within the Court order regarding his/her ability to relocate. In this circumstance, the parent may legally relocate with the children without the other parent’s consent and does not need to seek permission from the Court before doing so. It should be noted that it is very rare for an order to be silent on relocation. Oftentimes, the order will refer to and incorporate the county’s Standard Parenting Order which does contain a relocation restriction. Therefore, it is wise to review your Court order carefully, including seeking review by an attorney, before relocating.