In today's highly mobile society, is is not uncommon at all for one parent to desire to relocate to another city or state. While Courts recognize that a parent cannot realistically be confined to one geographic location, the greater the distance between the parents, the more difficult it can be to effectively exercise a joint physical custody arrangement. Courts routinely have to make difficult decisions that will heavily impact the child's relationship with a non-custodial parent.
When determining whether to allow children to relocate, the decision is made on a case by case basis, and there is no hard and fast rule. The Court is required to consider whether the move is made in good faith and will serve the best interests of the children, and the the court looks to the enumerated factors in RSMO 452.375.2, as in any custody proceeding. Whether or not the children would benefit economically, socially, or educationally are also considerations, but economic benefit does not have to be shown.
In a recent ruling from the Court of Appeals, a finding prohibiting the relocation was overturned, based on evidence of Mother’s history as primary caregiver, careful provision for children’s needs including time with Father, Father’s child support arrearages and criminal offenses, as well as other factors. The Court found that, even though the Father and other immediate family would have substantially less time with the children and the children would be moved to another city and another school, the move was in the children's best interests. To get an idea of how the Court approaches these cases, and what other factors are considered, click here to read the opinion.