Right to Move Custody Disputes

Helping parents with move-away or relocation custody disputes in Central and Eastern Oregon

When a custodial parent requests the court to allow him or her to move the children to a location that would interfere with the non-custodial parent's parenting time, this is commonly referred to as a move-away case.

We recognize that move-away cases are often the most difficult conflicts our clients face. The consequences of a court's ruling in a move-away case can have a profound impact on both the parents and the children. The move-away parent views the move as a doorway to his or her post-divorce future. The stay-behind parent, on the other hand, sees the move as a threat to his or her parenthood. We help parents hoping to prevent move-aways and parents seeking to relocate. We also help domestic partners involved in move-away disputes.

Framework of Right to Move Disputes

Unless both parents agree, parents who wish to move their children must seek permission from the court before doing so. There have been many reported decisions on the subject of move-aways and the law is constantly evolving in this complex area. In general, move-away cases are decided with the following analytical framework:

  • If no custody order exists yet, or the previous custody order is a temporary custody, the court's decision will determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the children
  • If a final or permanent custody order already exists, the legal standard which the court uses depends on the current type of custody plan
  • If the parents are sharing custody of the children, the decision is based on what is in the best interest of the children
  • If one parent has sole custody of the children, it may be easier for that parent to obtain court permission to move with the children. In such cases, the non-custodial parent may be successful in preventing the move if he or she can prove to the court that:

(a) The custodial parent's reasons for moving are in bad faith. The prime example of this is that the custodial parent is moving to try to reduce the non-custodial parent's time with the children

(b) The move would be detrimental to the children. The court must consider the effect the move will have on the children's relationship with the other parent after the move

Substantive Factors Courts Consider in Move-Away Disputes

Courts will determine whether to grant a move-away request based on a number of factors, including the following:

  • The reason for the proposed move
  • The children's interest in stability and continuity in the custodial arrangement
  • The distance of the move
  • The age of the children
  • The children's relationship with both parents
  • The relationship between the parents, including their ability to communicate and cooperate effectively and their willingness to put the interest of the children above their individual interest
  • The wishes of the children if they are mature enough for such an inquiry to be appropriate
  • The current custody arrangement
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent and continuing contact with the other parent
  • The children's community ties
  • The children's health and educational needs