What to do when your child is relocating outside Louisiana
Visitation, support, money — all things which come into play in Louisiana child custody cases. This can be a difficult process for both parties when deciding what’s in the best interest of a child, but the process can be further stymied when one party decides to relocate away from New Orleans either in or out of Louisiana.
The child custody process in Louisiana can be complicated enough, but child relocation can throw another level of difficulty onto a process you already shouldn’t undertake alone. A New Orleans family law attorney can help sort out any questions you may have when it comes to the best interests of your child.
What counts as relocation is Louisiana?
First, there needs to be an established residence of the child in order for a conversation on relocation to start. This is referred to as the child’s “principal residence” and is often established by court order. If not by court order, then the principal residence is where both parents agreed the child would live.
The principal residence is established after 60 days in one location. So if a child is relocated for a time less than 60 days and returns back to the principal residence, then it’s not considered official relocation by the state of Louisiana. The relocation laws in Louisiana most commonly apply in these situations:
- A parent moves a child outside the Louisiana state lines
- A parent moves a child more than 75 miles from the principal residence within Louisiana
In order for the parent to ask for relocation, they must fall into one of the three categories:
- Have sole custody of the child in a court order
- Have joint custody and be the domiciliary (a parent who spends time with the child at the principal residence)
- Share physical custody in a court order
Do I need consent from the non-custodial parent to move?
The state of Louisiana doesn’t allow parents to move further than 75 miles without receiving consent from either party. So it doesn’t matter whether you have sole custody or joint custody, one party isn’t allowed to pick up and leave without notifying the other.
Anytime a parent wants to relocate their child, they must give the other parent notice. This “notice” must be written out and mailed with certification 60 days before the proposed move. All the following information must be included in the notice:
- The current mailing address of the moving parent
- The intended new residence of the moving parent
- Phone numbers of the relocating parent
- The date when the parent wishes to move
- Stated reasons why the move is necessary
- Proposed new schedule of visitation
- Statement that the non-moving parent has right to object within 30 days of receiving the notice
- Statement the non-moving parent should seek a family law attorney
The moving parent should be prudent in making sure all the information in the notice is correct and up to date. Any changes will need to be updated with a new notice if necessary.
A failure to give notice can play a big factor in whether or not a judge will grant relocation to the moving parent. Even worse, a judge can force a moving parent to return the child or even force the moving parent to pay the non-moving parent’s legal fees in certain situations.
Fighting child relocation in Louisiana
If the non-moving parent consents to the move, then the two parties can work together to revise the visitation schedule. If the non-moving parent doesn’t give consent, then a contradictory hearing will take place.
In this hearing, a Louisiana judge will determine what’s in the child’s best interest through different pieces of evidence and testimony. It will be up to the moving parent to prove to a Louisiana court the move will serve the best interest of the child. A Louisiana judge will consider the following:
- The quality of the relationships of the people surrounding the child
- The child’s age and needs
- If the distance of the move will hurt the relationship between the child and the non-moving parent
- If the child is old enough, their presence
- The underlying motives of both parents
- How the non-moving parent has handled paying support and alimony
During this hearing, the child is not allowed to leave their principal residence until a final decision has been made. When the final decision is made, the Louisiana judge may modify an existing custody order to fit the needs of the child no matter the final verdict may be.
Let a New Orleans family law attorney guide you through child relocation
Child relocation can be one of the more perilous fights to undertake alone — whether you’re the moving parent or the non-custodial parent. One misstep in the process and a moving parent can be unknowingly charged with an act of defiance — railroading any effort to relocate your child.
Candice Bennatt is a New Orleans family law attorney you can trust to guide you through the process of child relocation in Louisiana. Call 504-777-3500 for a free consultation.