Missouri Divorce Law on the Custodial Parent Moving Out of State

By Beverly Bird

Missouri is one of the stricter states regarding parental relocation and its courts tend to favor the rights of the non-custodial parent. Gaining court permission to move your children out of state might be an uphill battle if the other parent doesn't give consent, but it's not impossible.

Geographical Distance

Many states' laws set a certain geographical distance beyond which the custodial parent cannot move her children without the non-custodial parent's agreement or the approval of the court. The distance is usually a number of miles -- such as 60 or 100 -- or across state lines. In Missouri, a custodial parent cannot move her children to the house next door without permission or the consent of the other parent. The law prohibits any relocation at all without official notification to the non-custodial parent.

Required Notice

Your notice to your child's other parent must be formal. It's not enough to telephone your ex or send an email telling him that you're going to move. Under Missouri law, your notice must be in written form and sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. You must explain where you're going, why you want to leave and how the move will affect your children. Your notice should include a plan for revising the visitation terms of the custody portion of your divorce decree, especially if your move is out of state and will make regular visitation difficult or impossible. Notice is required a full 60 days before you intend to move and if you fail to give it, the court can order you to bring your children home again.

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Relocation Trials

Missouri law gives the non-custodial parent 30 days to object to the move after receiving notice. If the parent does nothing within this time, the court will generally permit the custodial parent to move. If the non-custodial parent does object, it usually necessitates a trial so a judge can decide the matter. In Missouri, the burden of proof is on the custodial parent. She must demonstrate to the court how the move will improve the children's lives, despite the fact that it will limit frequent contact with their other parent. She must prove that she's not moving out of state in an attempt to disrupt or eliminate the relationship between her children and their other parent, and she must show the court how she'll continue to make the children available for contact, despite the distance between them. Missouri's family law code has no hard-and-fast rules for judges to follow when making these decisions, so they'll grant permission for the move -- or deny it -- on a case-by-case basis.

Joint Custody Factors

Missouri recognizes joint custody arrangements so, in some cases, neither spouse is the non-custodial parent. When parents share an equal amount of time with their children and one parent wants to relocate out of state and take the children with her, this necessitates changing the custody terms of the divorce decree. The judge will decide at trial which parent should have sole physical custody, since an out-of-state move would make joint physical custody impossible.

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Florida Laws Regarding Relocation After Divorce

References

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Standards for Moving Children During a Divorce in Georgia

The Georgia Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in 2003 regarding parental relocation, effectively turning previous case law in the state on its ear. If you're going through a divorce and you want to leave the state, that's fine – but the court may not let you take your children with you. Permanent custody isn't awarded until your final divorce decree is issued, and the decree could give custody to your children's other parent if you hope to move them out of state.

California Laws on Parent Relocation

When parents share parental responsibility, the state of California prevents the custodial parent from relocating with a child without either the consent of the non-custodial parent or a court order. This restriction may make it difficult for the custodial parent to take that dream job in another state. However, the prohibition's purpose is to protect the relationship between the child and non-custodial parent by ensuring the non-custodial parent does not suddenly become unable to see his child.

What Are the Laws in Arizona Concerning Divorce & Taking Your Kids Out of State?

Arizona requires parents to file proposed parenting plans during the divorce process, and the court only rules on custody issues if parents cannot agree to a parenting plan or some aspect of it. A couple’s parenting plan can give specific guidance about how the parents intend to handle vacations and relocations. Arizona law also provides rules about relocating children when the parents are divorced.

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