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How do North Carolina family courts handle parental relocation?

When Charlotte couples choose to divorce, the challenge that both sides often find most difficult to overcome is the physical separation of their families, particularly when those families include children. Yet as time progresses, divorced parents and their children are typically able to develop a new routine that everyone finds agreeable, and life goes on. If, however, a custodial parent wishes to relocate, those same separation issues can quickly come bubbling to the surface again. When such issues arise, the non-custodial parent may choose to try and block the move or to have the child custody agreement that he or she shares with the custodial parent revisited.

According to data collected by the law journal Divorce Litigation, family courts in North Carolina take several factors into account when considering the issue of parental relocation and if such action warrants their intervention:

  • How the relocation could improve a child's life
  • The reasons the custodial parent has for relocating
  • The motives of the non-custodial parent in fighting the move
  • The probability that the custodial parent will continue to abide by the current custody agreement when no longer in the state's jurisdiction
  • The likelihood that both parents can arrange a realistic visitation schedule

Most states have a legal relocation presumption in place to help set the parameters that regulate these types of custody disputes. In North Carolina, that presumption is in favor of relocation. Thus, it falls to the non-relocating parent to show sufficient changes in the circumstances surrounding his or her custody agreement to justify the court's enforcement of it. Unfortunately, the court does not consider the potential relocation as such a change. While this information is not intended to be viewed as legal advice, it may prove beneficial to those considering a move or hoping to challenge one. 

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