Child custody relocation requests rise with economic pressures

For some spouses divorce and child custody agreements can be hard to reach. However, with the current economic climate and more parents financially struggling, many are finding the situations to be even more trying as more are filing relocation requests.

According to a survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in the past three years 85 percent have seen complications arise in reaching a divorce settlement due to some kind of housing debt. Additionally 53 percent reported seeing an increase in the number of child custody cases that involve a relocation request.

Sources say the majority of these relocation requests are due to one parent finding a job opportunity in another area, or wanting to live with or closer to a new partner.

However, regardless of employment opportunities or new love interests, in Missouri if one parent wishes to relocate with their child, the other parent must also approve. Without both parents agreeing on the relocation, a judge needs to approve the move.

But what’s interesting is that even though those in the survey reported seeing a 53 percent increase in the number of child custody cases involving relocation requests, respondents reported that there has only been a 21 percent increase in the number of relocation requests approved by the courts.

Relocation requests in Missouri

In Missouri relocations, a parent must send a certified letter to the other parent explaining where the move would be to, and the reason for the move. A new proposed visitation and child custody schedule must also be provided.

After receiving the letter, a parent has 30 days to file an objection, which puts a stop on the relocation until there is a hearing with a judge. Without filing an objection it could be considered that the parent waived their right and that the move is OK.

However, even though there are laws in Missouri on how to relocate with a child, complications can still arise as sometimes parents relocate without first asking, or a parent doesn’t understand the objection process. Because of this, if you want to move, your ex has already moved with your child, or you have received a certified letter about a move, it’s best to talk with an attorney who specializes in family law to make sure that your rights as a parent are protected.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, “Struggling Economy Complicates Divorce and Child Custody Cases says Survey,” American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Sept. 26, 2011

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