Can You Move Out of State with an Existing Custody Agreement?

Mother and her small daughter in cardboard box at their new home - moving with a custody agreement concept
If you have a parenting plan in Oregon but you are looking to relocate to a different state, you might be wondering whether you can move away with your child. Perhaps you have an employment opportunity in another state or are looking to reside closer to extended family. Regardless of whether a parent has a valid reason for wanting to move, child relocation cases can be particularly sensitive — and they may also be contentious. Since the non-moving parent can lose parenting time, their consent or a court order is required if the custodial parent wishes to move a certain distance away.

Can a Custodial Parent Relocate with a Child?

Under Oregon law, unless the parents agree otherwise in the custody and parenting time judgment, a custodial parent is usually permitted to relocate no more than 60 miles further distant from the other parent without notifying them or obtaining permission before the move. If the relocation would put the moving parent more than 60 miles further distant from the other parent, notice must be provided to the noncustodial parent and the court prior to moving. However, the terms of each judgment will determine how this rule is applied and a custodial parent is required to follow any court orders or judgments that were issued concerning parenting time — even if they are only relocating a short distance away. In some cases, an existing custody agreement or court order might specify certain conditions for relocation. It’s always best to try to reach an agreement to modify their parenting time with the noncustodial parent outside of court . But if the non-moving parent doesn’t consent to the move, they may file a motion with the court to prevent it. Conversely, a custodial parent may also motion the court requesting a judge to allow the relocation.

How Does a Court Determine Relocation Matters?

Relocation cases are fact-specific and often legally complex. If both parents do not agree to the move, a court will determine the outcome of the dispute by evaluating a number of different factors. In a child relocation case, a judge in Oregon will consider the best interests of the child first and foremost. Factors that must be considered by a court when a parent is considering relocating with a child include the following:
  • The reason for the custodial parent’s move
  • The distance of the move
  • The child’s age
  • The effect of the move on the relationship between the noncustodial parent and the child
  • Each parent’s willingness to communicate and cooperate with one another
  • The current custody agreement
  • Each parent’s willingness to encourage regular contact between the child and the other parent
  • Whether the move is beneficial for the child
  • The child’s wishes depending on their age
Depending on which Oregon county your case is located in, it is likely an uphill battle to obtain permission from the court to relocate a child with the difficulty increasing the further away the proposed move is. The burden is on the parent who wants to move to demonstrate that the move is best for the child - particularly if the move will impact parenting time with the parent who is not moving.

Creating a Long-Distance Parenting Plan

When parents live a distance apart, it’s crucial for a child to be able to develop and maintain an emotional bond with the noncustodial parent. Importantly, if co-parents reside more than 60 miles away from each other, a long-distance parenting plan should be created that emphasizes frequent and continued contact with the child. In addition to regular phone calls, parents should also consider utilizing various technologies that allow for face-to-face interaction, such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime. A long-distance parenting plan will look very different from a standard parenting plan and have many different components. To ensure a long-distance parenting plan is effective, several elements should be addressed in the document, including travel arrangements, who will pay for travel expenses, communication between co-parents, and visitation. While parents can choose from a wide variety of scheduling options for visitation, the schedule should take the child’s age and needs into consideration — as well as the economic realities of the co-parents. You shouldn’t expect the same parenting plan to work for years in a child relocation case. A child’s needs will change as they get older, and it may be necessary to make modifications to an existing plan. Critically, a parent may not unilaterally make any adjustments to visitation or any other aspect of a parenting plan that has been ordered by the court. They must work out an agreement with the other parent and submit it for a judge’s approval or request a court modify the current plan and issue a new order.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Family Law Attorney

Relocating with a child after divorce or separation can be a difficult issue. Whether you’re the custodial or noncustodial parent, it’s essential to have a skilled family law attorney by your side to protect your rights and ensure the best interests of your child are satisfied. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides compassionate counsel to clients throughout Oregon for a broad scope of family law matters. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation.
Categories: Child Custody