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What is considered in relocation cases?

Child custody disputes can be particularly difficult when the prospect of relocation arises. It is fairly common for a parent to want to move to another city to pursue a new job, or simply to start a new life. Indeed, the prospect of this can be emotionally painful for the parent left behind.

Depending on the nature of the relationship, a custodial parent may have to seek the court’s permission before executing a move. If a child is born of a marriage or a parenting time order exists, a custodial parent generally has to petition the court and serve the other parent. After all, Massachusetts law gives parents the right to contest moves that will substantially impact existing parenting time.

In relocation cases ( also known as move-away cases), a family court judge will consider a number of factors, including:

-Whether the move will enhance the child’s quality of life (i.e. moving closer to school and/or extended family).

-The custodial parent’s reasons for moving, as well as the non-custodial parent’s reasons for opposing such a move.

-How far away the moving parent will be going (i.e. within the same county, region or state).

- Whether the move will significantly affect the non-custodial parent’s time with the child.

- The children’s preferences, if they are old enough to register a reasonable opinion.


Relocation cases are very fact specific, meaning that it is especially difficult to predict the outcome of your case based on what you know about another case. If you have questions about executing a potential move or defending one, an experienced family law attorney can help. 

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