Moving Out of State With Your Children

In this video, divorce attorney Lisa Angel talks about how you can move out of state after your divorce and keep custody of your children.


Hi. I’m Lisa Angel. In this video we will talk about the laws regarding child custody and relocation in North Carolina.

When a custodial parent relocates, it can wreak havoc on the family, especially if it means the child won’t be able to spend as much time with one of their parents. For this reason, there are specific laws governing child custody when it comes to relocation.

Just like with general child custody cases, the standard for deciding custody when relocation is a factor should always be, “What is in the best interests of the child or children involved?”
Some of the criteria in determining this includes the age of the child, the stability of each parent, each parent’s schedule and work obligations, and the willingness of each parent to involve the other parent in visitations with the child and events in the child’s life.

If you are trying to relocate with your children, your ability to do so will be largely dependent on how it will affect their wellbeing. For instance, a parent moving out of state is much more likely to be granted full or primary custody if the new area has better schools or more cultural opportunities, is closer to family, or if the other parent travels constantly for work and cannot look after the kids full time. Likewise, a parent moving out of state just because they thought it would be fun to live in a new place isn’t likely to receive as much custody time as a parent remaining in the town where their children go to school and have lived all their lives.

If you decide to relocate after your child custody agreement is finalized, you will need to seek a modification. In any situation, modifying a custody agreement requires that there be a substantial change in circumstances affecting the wellbeing of the child.

However, regardless of whether you have a court order or a separation agreement, there’s one important rule you should follow: do NOT move without modifying your custody agreement first.

While there are certainly cases in which you could move immediately, these exceptions are granted very rarely and usually only in life threatening situations. Even if your agreement doesn’t state anything about moving and you could still abide by your custody schedule, relocation can have a huge impact on your children and it is important that all parties agree to the move. Unless you and your children are in potential danger by staying in your current living situation, make sure you amend your court order or separation agreement before leaving town.

So, what are the steps you should take first if you’re considering relocating?

First, take a step back and assess your reasons for the relocation. Make sure they really are for the best interests of your children. Don’t focus on what is best for you, focus on what is best for your kids, and how the move will impact them.

Second, discuss your situation with your attorney. Every district may have a different approach to relocation and your attorney will know best how these types of cases are treated in your district. As always, you are at the mercy of the judge and his or her decision, but it would rarely be to your advantage to move first and ask questions later.

In the case of most long-distance situations, one parent will be given primary custody. The other parent can usually expect significant visitation time in the summer, during holidays, and some weekends depending on how far apart the two parents live. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handling custody. Each case is different and parents should work together to determine a custody schedule that most benefits their children.

For more information, take a look at other videos available on our website at You’ll find great resources to help you with your case.

Thank you for watching. I’m Lisa Angel with the Rosen Law Firm.

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