Moving When You Have a Custody Order
Authored By: Legal Services Alabama
On September 1, 2003, a new law went into effect. Courts now have to do more to try to protect parents' rights to visit their children. When a Court gives joint physical custody or gives one parent custody and the other visitation, the Court's order will tell each parent what they have to do if they want to move. The first step for a parent is sending a notice to the other parent - by certified mail. That parent may then get a chance to object to the move by filing papers in Court.
The Court gave me custody of my child. It gave my ex-husband visitation. What happens if I want to move?
- Both parties are required to give notice to each other when they move.
- The Court may waive this notice requirement in cases of domestic violence. If the Court's order does not waive the notice, you must provide notice.
How do I give notice?
You should give notice by certified mail.
Moves of more than 60 miles or moves out of state
If you move more than 60 miles away from the other parent or if you move across the state line (even if the distance is shorter) you must provide more specific notice to the other parent. (As a general rule of thumb, if you move out of the county, you probably should provide this more specific notice.)
- If you want to move out of state, there are additional notice requirements, even if you just move a short distance.
- If the move is going to take you more than 60 miles from him, there are additional notice requirements, even if you stay in the State of Alabama.
- If he has already moved more than 60 miles from you, there are additional notice requirements, even if your move is for a short distance.
When do I give notice?
- You have to send the certified letter at least 45 days before you move.
- If you have to move unexpectedly, you need to give as much notice as you can. You may have to explain to a Court why you could not give 45-day notice.
What do I have to put in the notice?
- Your new street address and mailing address (post office box if you have one) and new telephone number
- Name, address and phone number of the child's new school
- Date you plan to move
- Your specific reasons for changing your child's principal residence
- Your suggested changes to custody or the visitation schedule
- A warning to the non-relocating person that any objection to the relocation must be made within 30 days of receipt of the notice
What if I don't know the addresses and phone numbers?
- Try to get as much information as you can and put it in your notice.
- When you learn the rest of the information, you have to send it in another certified mail letter.
Can my ex-husband stop me from moving?
- He can try. He may have the right to file papers in Court saying he does not want you to move the child farther from him. It depends on how far from your ex-husband the move will take you.
- If you want to move out of state, he can object to you moving with the child - even if you just move a short distance.
- If the move is going to take you more than 60 miles from him, he can object to you moving with the child.
- If he has already moved more than 60 miles from you, he can object to any move that would increase the distance between you and him. For example, if he moves to Atlanta, he could object if you want to move to a new home west of where you now live.
- If he tries to stop you by filing an action in Court, he must file the action within 30 days from the date of his receipt of your Certified Mail notice.
- In addition to trying to stop your move with the child, your former husband may also seek an order granting him custody and other relief concerning your child.
What happens if he files papers?
- The Court will hold a hearing.
- After the hearing, the Court will decide if you can keep your child if you move.
What do I need to show in Court?
- The Court will make you show that the move is best for your child.
- If you can't show this, your ex-husband will probably get custody if you move.
How can I show the move helps my child?
- There is no easy answer to this important question.
- You will have to point to some specific way your child will be better off.
- This could be you being able to get more of what your child needs, because you can get a better-paying job.
- It helps to show your child would be in a better school.
- It helps if you show it would be safer for your child.
- It helps if you show you will have a better family network.
- You will also need to show that you are not making the move just to make it harder for your child to spend time with his or her father.
What if he abused me during the marriage?
- The Court can make some exceptions if your ex-husband abused you.
- It can do away with the need for you to give notice before moving.
- At the least, the Court should make it harder for your ex-husband to get custody because you move.
What happens if I move and don't send the notice?
- The Court may use this as a reason for changing custody.
- The Court can make you pay the increased visitation costs.
- The Court can even reduce the child support you get.
Reviewed June 2012
AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call Toll-Free 1-866-456-4995. You can also Apply Online.