Custody and Relocation

I Have Sole Custody, Can I Move Out of State?

As the custodial parent, you have significant rights with regard to your child.  Most likely, a visitation order has also been entered allowing the non-custodial parent certain visitation rights.  What happens when the custodial parent decides to move out of state?  The rules vary depending on the law of the state where you custody order was entered.  In Alabama, there are certain requirements that must be met.

Look at your Court Order

When courts award either joint physical custody or custody to one parent and visitation to the other, the Order should include instructions on what to do if one parent wants to move out of state.  Usually, the first step is for the moving parent to send notice, by certified mail, to the other parent.  This allows the non-moving parent to notify the court if they object to the move. This may not be required in all cases, such as where domestic violence was involved.  However, if your court order does not waive notice, you must provide the other parent of your intention to move.

More than 60 miles or out of state

Yes, if you intend to move more than 60 miles away from the other parent, regardless of whether it is out of state, you must provide notice.  Also, if you want to move across state lines, regardless of the mileage, you have to give notice.  Notice needs to be given at least 45 days before you move.  If you must move unexpectedly, you need to give as much notice as possible, and you will most likely need to explain to a Court why you could not give 45-day notice.

What information is required in the notice?

The notice should include your new street address and mailing address and new telephone number.  You also need to provide the contact information for the child’s new school, if applicable.  You should provide the date you intend to move and the reasons for the move.  If changes need to be made to the custody or visitation schedule, which is likely for longer moves, you need to suggest appropriate changes to the schedule.  Indicate that the non-moving parent must make any objection within 30 days.

Can the other parent stop me from moving?

It depends on the situation.  There are many reasons a non-moving parent might object.  The most common reason for objecting is the increased distance between the parent and the child because of the move.  If the other parent files a timely objection, the court will have a hearing and decide whether you should be allowed to move the child.  The court will require you to show that the move is best for your child.  If you are unsuccessful, but insist on moving, the other parent may be awarded custody.  Some reasons for moving that may benefit the child could be:

  • being able to get a better-paying job
  • better school
  • safer area for your child
  • better family network for you and the child

It is also important to show you are not moving just to make it harder for your child to spend time with the other parent.  If you have questions or needs assistance with child custody and/or visitation, please contact our firm either online, or by calling (205) 533-7476.


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