In Alabama, a custodial parent looking to relocate over 60 miles away from the other parent must provide a notice of relocation to the other parent 45 days before that move. The exception is the custodial parent learns about the move within less than 45 days. In this case, they must reach out within 10 days.
If the second parent objects to the relocation, that parent has 30 days to file an objection. The court will schedule a hearing. Both parents need to appear and may need to testify. The second parent must prove the relocation is detrimental to the child.
It is strongly advised that both parents have legal representation.
What does the court look at in these matters?
A custodial parent’s reason to leave the state is not as important as the child’s well-being. The court will consider:
- The child’s needs.
- Involvement with parents and siblings.
- How the travel time affects visitation conditions.
- The impact the move has on the educational and emotional development of the child.
- If, of age and maturity, the child’s preference.
- The stability of each parent.
- The new residence, such as a foreign country that won’t enforce visitation rights.
- Alternative communication channels for the child and noncustodial parent.
Examples of relocation cases
These are actual matters brought before Alabama courts.
- A mother who moved to another state couldn’t get custody of her daughter. The point of conflict entailed the mother surrendering her parental rights to the grandparents. The court did not see how removing the child materially improved the child’s welfare.
- The court switched custody from mother to father after the mother planned to marry a third time and relocate to Texas. The father gave reasonable evidence to show the change wasn’t in the child’s best interests.
- A father failed to stop his ex-wife from taking their child to another city. Remarried, the mother had long been the primary caregiver and showed how the child benefitted academically and culturally. Plus, she demonstrated support for fair visitation.
Child custody cases are often complex, multi-faceted and capable of creating rifts in the family dynamic. You have to know the repercussions of an ex moving and how the law works.