Parental relocation is a difficult child custody issue

A great job opportunity for a Massachusetts resident can mean that the individual will uproot his family and move everyone to a new community or even to a new state. When a person facing such a situation is married, he and his spouse can decide if the move will serve the family’s best interests. When the person is divorced and has children, his decision to move and to try to take his kids with him is significantly more challenging.

Under Massachusetts law, a divorced parent generally may not take his child out of state without the consent of the other parent. Courts can provide orders for the permissible removal of children from the state by their divorced parents, but at its most superficial level consent of the parents is required for such an action to occur. This rule applies regardless of whether the parents have joint physical custody of the child or whether one parent has sole physical custody and the other has visitation rights.

However, if a parent has no rights to a child then that individual may not be able to stop the relocation of the child and his parent. Parents can lose their rights to their kids, choose to give up their rights, or can fail to acknowledge their children through refusals to complete paternity tests. If parental rights were never established or were abolished after the fact, then that unrecognized parent has no standing to prevent relocation.

Courts look at what child custody arrangements will serve the best interests of the child when they make custody and visitation schedules. Parental relocation throws a big twist into those carefully crafted schedules and parenting plans. For this reason, parents generally may not unilaterally move their kids out of Massachusetts without the consent of the kids’ other parents. Please be aware that this information is general in nature, and a Massachusetts family law attorney can provide advice tailored to a specific situation.

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