Can I Move With My Child?
People move or relocate all the time – sometimes for a job, sometimes to be closer to family, or sometimes just for a new start. However, for separated or divorced parents who share custody of a child, a move is complicated. The decision to relocate has an effect on your custody order and visitation schedule. In D.C., if you have joint custody, you have to seek permission before moving with the minor child.
The Court will consider the best interest of the child, and the factors under D.C. Code 16-914(a)(3). However, when a request to relocate has been made, the Court will consider additional factors along with the factors listed in the D.C. Code.
The factors for a request to relocate are:
- The strength of the relationship of the child with each parent
- The individual resources, temperament, and special development needs of the child
- The psychological stability of the relocating parent and the parenting effectiveness of both parents
- The success of the current custody arrangement and the effect the proposed relocation will have on its stability and continuity
- The advantages and disadvantages of the proposed relocation, including the potential disruption of the child’s social and school life and a comparison of the educational, health, and extracurricular opportunities the child would have in each location
- Any benefits to the child likely to be derived from the parents’ improved circumstances
- The feasibility of an alternative visitation and access schedule, including the geographic proximity of and travel time between the parental homes and as this relates to the practical considerations of the child’s residential schedule
- The motivations of the parents in proposing and opposing relocation
- The effect the move will have on the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent, and whether there is any established pattern of promoting or thwarting that relationship
- The extent of any conflict between the parents and the recentness of the marital separation
See generally Estopina v. O’Brian, 68 A.3d 790 (D.C. 2013).