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Melissa A. Featherston

Legislative bills can complicate child custody and relocation

Divorce can be a difficult process. Regardless of the circumstances, the ending of a marriage can be an emotionally draining period of time. Once the decision to divorce has been made, Missouri spouses have to make the transition toward living independently, which may sometimes result in one of the parties having to relocate. Moving after a divorce can result in added stress, especially if children are involved. Understanding state laws regarding child custody and relocation can help a parent to avoid a violation, which could result in unfavorable changes to his or her custody or visitation rights.

A recent bill that another state proposed could have limited the ability of custodial parents from relocating with their children. The bill in question would have limited a custodial parent from moving more than 10 miles from his or her current residence without first getting approval from the non-custodial parent. This would have been a drastic change from the state's current relocation law, which only requires the notice for relocations greater than 100 miles.

Supporters of the bill believed it would have provided added protection to non-custodial parents by better ensuring that they have an adequate amount of visitation time and remain involved in their child's educational activities. However, opponents believed that reducing the 100-mile radius could have potentially been taken advantage of by some non-custodial parents. The new law could have possibly been used to prevent a former spouse from purchasing a new home or accepting a new job.

Even though this bill was rejected and it was from another state, it still shows the potential impact that legislative changes could have on child custody and visitation laws. In the state of Missouri, custodial parents are required to formally notify non-custodial parents of their intent to move in a written notice no less than 60 days prior to the move. The notice must include the address and contact information for the proposed new residence. Whether Missouri spouses are seeking to relocate with a child or to prevent their child from moving away, having a thorough knowledge of all state laws could significantly increase their chances of achieving the results they desire.

Source: ktar.com, "Arizona House rejects move notice to noncustodial parents", , April 15, 2014

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