When parents divorce and the custodial parent wishes to move to another state with the minor child(ren), it may not be as simple as packing up the moving van and driving away. It is important to understand that a divorce decree will specifically address the issues of custody and visitation. These orders of the court are fully enforceable and not following them may find you in contempt of court.
For example, let’s assume that your divorce decree orders that both parents have joint custody of the minor children and that you have physical custody of them (meaning they live with you). Your ex-spouse has visitation with the children on Wednesday evenings and every other weekend from Friday after school through Sunday night at 8:00. You can’t relocate the children out of state at a whim without effecting the existing court-ordered parenting plan. In other words, if you relocate to another state, the other parent’s visitation is prevented (or at the very least, compromised).
Before you put the house up for sale and quit your job, you should be aware that effective October 1, 2006, Connecticut General Statute 46b-56(d) reads:
“(a) In any proceeding before the Superior Court arising after the entry of a judgment awarding custody of a minor child and involving the relocation of either parent with the child, where such relocation would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the relocating parent shall bear the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, (2) the proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose, and (3) the relocation is in the best interests of the child.
(b) In determining whether to approve the relocation of the child under subsection (a) of this section, the court shall consider, but such consideration shall not be limited to: (1) Each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation; (2) the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent; (3) the impact of the relocation on the quantity and the quality of the child’s future contact with the nonrelocating parent; (4) the degree to which the relocating parent’s and the child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the relocation; and (5) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements.”
You should also be aware that with regard to modification of such court orders, pursuant to Connecticut General Statute 46b-56(c):
“In making or modifying any order as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the court shall consider the best interests of the child, and in doing so may consider, but shall not be limited to, one or more of the following factors: (1) The temperament and developmental needs of the child; (2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child; (3) any relevant and material information obtained from the child, including the informed preferences of the child; (4) the wishes of the child’s parents as to custody; (5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the best interests of the child; (6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders; (7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute; (8) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child; (9) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community environments; (10) the length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity in such environment, provided the court may consider favorably a parent who voluntarily leaves the child’s family home pendente lite in order to alleviate stress in the household; (11) the stability of the child’s existing or proposed residences, or both; (12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interests of the child; (13) the child’s cultural background; (14) the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or the child; (15) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected, as defined respectively in section 46b-120; and (16) whether the party satisfactorily completed participation in a parenting education program established pursuant to section 46b-69b. The court is not required to assign any weight to any of the factors that it considers.” (Emphasis added.)
NOTE: In addition to this blog which is specific to the lesbian and gay community, I also publish a general blog called Attorney O’s Midnight Musings: Connecticut Law. While the posts on that blog are not specific to the LGBT community, the information is none-the-less appropriate to the community as well. The above post appeared on my other blog but it is useful for divorcing same-sex couples to review. Originally published by Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. on May 11, 2010. Modified slightly as to gender for this blog.
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copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.