After two parties have separated, one parent may want to move out of state, and take the minor child with him or herself. The question often arises as to whether one parent can make the decision to relocate the minor child on his or her own. The answer to this question can depend on whether there or not there is a custody order in place that allows a parent to relocate the child.

If There is a Custody Order in Place

One of the first things to consider when deciding on whether to relocate a child from his or her home state of North Carolina is whether there is a child custody order in place. This child custody order may restrict a parent’s ability to relocate with the child. Violating this child custody order can have serious consequences such as being found in contempt of court. If a parent does want to relocate a child, he or she should request a modification of the current order from the court. Even if the other parent agrees to the relocation, a parent should still request the court to modify the current custody order, to avoid any possibility of being found in contempt. The court will look at what is in the best interest of the minor child when deciding on whether or not to modify the child custody order.

If There Is Not A Custody Order In Place

If there is no child custody order in place, a parent is still not freely allowed to relocate a child. If a parent and child have lived in North Carolina for the past six months, then North Carolina is considered to be the home state of the minor child. If a parent tries to move the child out of North Carolina before a custody order is entered and without the other parent’s consent, the other parent can make a request to the court that the minor child is returned to North Carolina. The parent wanting to relocate the child out of North Carolina should consider informing the court of his or her intent to move out of state with the minor child.

What Happens If a Parent Does Relocate with the Minor Child?

If a parent relocates the minor child without a court order allowing him to do so, or without the other parent’s consent, then the relocating parent faces the possibility of being found in contempt of the custody order in place. The other parent can also seek an emergency custody order to have the child returned to the state of North Carolina. In many cases, the relocating parent has a more difficult time gaining custody of the child after being ordered to return the child to the other parent.

If you are considering moving your child after a divorce, you may want to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney first. Consulting with an attorney can help to determine all of your options and to avoid any consequences that could arise if you are found to have violated a custody order or have acted contrary to the best interests of the child. Contact Hatcher Law Group for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to understanding your rights and options moving forward.