The Ins and Outs of Connecticut’s Legal Requirements for Relocating with a Child

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Relocation requirements the ins and outs from Freed Marrcoft family lawyersAre you thinking about relocating from Connecticut with your child?  If so, it’s essential to understand the legal requirements before making this decision so that you stay in good stead with the court and your ex.  Connecticut has specific laws intended to protect the child’s best interests during a relocation, which differ depending on whether you have sole or joint custody, and whether you are in the middle of your divorce or original custody matter vs. post-custody or post-divorce.  Plus, your relocation attorney must consider any existing court orders on your case.

Today we will review the factors CT courts consider when granting or denying a relocation request, as well as the procedure involved in seeking permission.  Whether you have joint custody, sole custody, or visitation, understanding these requirements is crucial for making informed decisions for your child and yourself.  Please read on to learn more about Connecticut’s legal landscape and how to ensure your relocation plans comply with the law.

Tips for Parents Planning to Relocate with a Child in Connecticut

Relocating with a child is a complex process, and it’s essential to have a solid plan in place before you begin.  Read on for three tips that can help you through the process.

1.  Consider the Impact on Your Child

Before you relocate, consider the impact it will have on your child.  Will the move disrupt their education, social life, or support network?  Will it affect their relationship with the other parent?  You need to consider all these factors before making a decision.

2.  Seek Legal Advice

Relocating with a child is a complicated and highly case-specific legal process, and you need to ensure that you understand and comply with all the legal requirements.  Seek the advice of an experienced attorney before you make any decisions.

3.  Think About Your Relationship with the Other Parent

What’s your relationship with the other parent, especially if you have joint custody or visitation?  Do you think you can work out an agreement on relocation outside of court with the help of your attorneys (and maybe mediation or collaborative divorce)?  Or, do you think they will disagree with your desire to move, potentially setting the stage for a high conflict litigation?  Will your desire to move with your child hurt your ability to co-parent successfully?  It’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of all potential reactions and options and fold them into your plan with your attorney.

Read: When Should You Hire an Attorney?

Legal Procedures for Relocating with a Child in Connecticut When You Have Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody

The legal procedures for relocating with a child in Connecticut differ depending on whether you have sole or joint custody.  For example, suppose you have sole custody and the other parent doesn’t have visitation.  In that case, your relocation process will look different than if, for example, you share custody with a co-parent.

Read: Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

Connecticut’s Legal Standard for Relocating with a Child During a Divorce

The legal standard for relocating with a child during a divorce differs from the standard for post-divorce relocations.

During your divorce or original custody case, the automatic court orders prevent either parent from permanently removing their child from Connecticut without the other parent’s written consent or a court’s ruling order permitting them to do so.  The standard the court uses when deciding about a relocation during divorce or the main custody case is the child’s best interests.

Read: What Are the Automatic Orders?

Read: Understanding the CT Court’s Perspective on the Child’s Best Interests

Post-Judgment Relocation Modifications

On the other hand, if you have already obtained a divorce and have a custody or visitation order, you have a post-judgment relocation.  An experienced attorney will review the court orders from your divorce or custody case before diving in headfirst.  Some court orders specifically address relocation.

In cases where a post-judgment relocation is a modification of the existing parenting plan, and the court orders are silent, the first question is whether it would have “a significant impact on an existing parenting plan.”

Read: What Is a Modification?

Factors Considered By the Court When Considering a Post-Judgment Modification

When a proposed relocation would significantly impact the existing parenting plan, the parent proposing it bears a not insubstantial burden.  Specifically, the parent who wants to relocate with the children must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the:

  1. Relocation is for a legitimate purpose,
  2. Proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose, and
  3. Relocation is in the best interests of the child.

When Connecticut judges determine whether to approve the requested location, they consider (among other things) the:

  1. Reasons each parent has for seeking or opposing the relocation,
  2. Quality of the relationships between the child and each parent,
  3. Relocation’s impact on the quantity and the quality of the child’s future contact with the nonrelocating parent,
  4. Degree to which the relocating parent’s and the child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally, and educationally by the relocation, and
  5. Feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements.

Read: Parent’s Guide to Moving out of Connecticut: What You Need to Know When Relocating with a Child

Consequences of Non-Compliance with Connecticut’s Relocation Requirements

Failure to comply with Connecticut’s relocation requirements can have serious consequences.  You may be held in contempt of court, fined, or even face criminal charges.  Additionally, non-compliance can result in a modification of custody or visitation orders in favor of the other parent.

Read: What Is a Motion for Contempt?

ADR When Relocating with a Child

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can be a valuable tool in relocation cases.  Mediation, collaborative law, or arbitration can help you and the other parent reach an agreement on the relocation without needing a court hearing.  ADR can also help you and the other parent maintain a positive relationship, essential for co-parenting and better for your kids.

Read: ADR & Divorce

Next Steps

Relocating with a child in Connecticut is a complex legal process that requires careful planning and compliance with specific legal requirements.  Understanding these requirements is crucial for making informed decisions for your child and yourself.  If you are planning to relocate with your child, our experienced attorneys are here to help.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC