Legal Procedure for Moving out of State After a Divorce in Hawaii

By Jim Thomas

A divorce frees you up to start a new life, and this includes moving to Oregon, Oklahoma, Ontario, or wherever you choose. That is unless, of course, you intend to relocate with your children and the other parent objects. Then it gets complicated. Family courts in Hawaii place the burden of proof on the parent who wants to move with the kids. You must demonstrate that the move is in their best interests.

Parental Agreement

If the other parent doesn't object to the relocation, both of you can file an agreement with the court to modify your original divorce decree. This is a fairly simple process. You want the court to change the parenting plan in the divorce decree to reflect any new visitation arrangements created as a result of the relocation.

Objecting to Relocation

If you can't work out an agreement with the other parent, he or she can petition the court to block the move. Hawaii courts consider a relocation to be a "material change in circumstances," which can result in an order preventing you from taking the children from Hawaii; the other parent can also seek a change in custody if you can't demonstrate that the move is in the children's best interests.

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Child's Best Interest

Hawaii courts consider a range of factors in determining the best interests of the child. Factors include the relationship between the child and the parents, the age of the child, the wishes of the child, especially if the child is older, and the prospects for improved circumstances for the child after relocation.

Relocation by Non-Custodial Parent

If you are divorced and later decide to move, while your children and former spouse plan to remain in Hawaii, you can petition the court for a change in visitation arrangements with the family court. As in the reverse situation — you plan to relocate with the kids — it is a simple process if both parties agree. Otherwise, you'll need to go to court to seek a change in the parenting plan so you can continue to play an active role in the lives of your children after you relocate

Transferring Court Orders

After you relocate with the children, it's a good idea to make sure you can easily enforce the terms of the divorce decree in your new home state. This is referred to as the domestication of a foreign judgment: a court order from another state is legally transferred to the state in which you now reside. It can be helpful in expediting the enforcement of child support or spousal support payments and enforcing other provisions of the agreement without requiring you to return to Hawaii. Generally, you can domesticate your divorce decree by filing a copy with the court in the state where you relocate and notifying the noncustodial parent.

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