How do courts determine if relocation of a child to another state during a divorce is acceptable?

In situations where a custodial parent wishes to relocate with a child, the court will determine whether child custody relocation is in the best interests of the child. While a parent is free to relocate out of state themselves without the child or with the permission of the other parent to take the child, the state of Rhode Island requires a Judge’s ruling regarding relocation contested by a parent.

In Rhode Island, a judge is required to consider many variables including:

  • Whether or not the quality of the child’s life will be improved and if the child will endure similar benefits as the parent from the move.
  • Adverse effects of altering visitation schedule and the extent to which the child’s relationship to the non-moving parent will be compromised.
  • How the child’s emotional, physical, or developmental needs will be impacted by moving or not moving.
  • If there is a way to create a new visitation order to allow the non-relocating parent to maintain a close and enduring bond with the child.

The fact that a move may improve the quality of life of the parent wishing to relocate will not be determinative to a Judge. The Judges role focuses on the effect upon the child and his relationship with his parents, friends and community, in their home state and the proposed location.

You should never permanently relocate a child without a Court order or some type of written acknowledgment from the other parent allowing you to move