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Charlotte Child Custody & Relocation Lawyers

Providing help to North Carolina families when circumstances change

Making the decision and beginning to plan a move is a stressful and overwhelming process. When a parent has primary physical custody of their child, they might feel like they have the right to take the child with them when they move, no permission necessary. However, this isn’t true. Under state law, the relocating parent will need a formal agreement from the other parent or a court order approving the move.

A skilled Charlotte family law attorney can help make this process easier. Whether you are planning a move with your child, or your ex-spouse is moving with your child, we can help guide you through the legal process to work for what’s in the best interests of your child. Relocation and child custody issues can be emotionally fraught and difficult. We understand and we can help you fight for what matters.

Can I move away if I have custody? Can my ex-spouse?

If you’re moving to another house in the same town, city or county, it’s unlikely you’ll need to go to court or ask permission from your ex-spouse. However, you do need to keep in mind that most child custody agreements in Charlotte and throughout the state have geographic boundaries and both parents must abide by those specific agreements. If you or your ex-spouse is considering a move, review your child custody documents carefully to understand the terms of your agreement.

Whether or not a child custody order has geographic limits, moving a child out of state will likely raise issues with the child’s other parent. Even moving a few hours away within the state may cause problems. Moving without consent can result in serious legal complications, so it’s best to work with an attorney to create a parenting plan or modify an existing order before going through with any big life changes like relocating.

Can my ex-spouse move or leave the state if I don’t have custody? Can I?

If neither parent has a formal and court-ordered child custody plan in place, many different issues can arise if one decides to move out of North Carolina. One of the parents could view it as a problem and refuse to comply, or – in extreme cases – even view the situation as a kidnapping. However, without a court order in place (and unless the relocating parent’s goal is to evade the law), a parent can technically and legally move with their child.

Parents may file for emergency custody if they can prove the other parent left the state in order to escape the jurisdiction of Mecklenburg County and North Carolina courts. It’s vitally important to seek help from a Charlotte child custody attorney in these situations.

How can I stop my ex-spouse from moving away with my child?

If you don’t have physical custody of your child and are opposed to your child’s other parent taking them out of state, it’s important to get representation from an experienced child custody lawyer as soon as you can. You’ll need a strong argument that supports and proves it’s in your child’s best interests to stay in North Carolina, and either prevents your ex-spouse from relocating, or have primary physical custody re-assigned to you.

How does the court determine custody when one parent wants to move?

If both parents are in disagreement as to where a child will live when one parent relocates, the court will make the decision instead. When adjusting or changing a child custody schedule, the court considers only the best interests of the child, using factors as outlined in the case Ramirez-Barker v. Barker:

  • The advantages of the relocation in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the child
  • The motives of the custodial parent in seeking the move
  • The likelihood that the custodial parent will comply with visitation orders when he or she is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of North Carolina
  • The integrity of the noncustodial parent in resisting the relocation
  • The likelihood that a realistic visitation schedule can be arranged which will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent

Additionally, the court stated, “Although most relocation will present both advantages and disadvantages for the child, when the disadvantages are outweighed by the advantages, as determined and weighed by the trial court, the trial court is well within its discretion to permit the relocation.”

Conversely, if a judge believes a move is not in the child’s best interests, they may deny the parent permission to relocate, or award primary physical custody to the other parent.

What state has jurisdiction over my child custody agreement if my ex-spouse or I move?

Most states use the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to enforce child custody agreements across state lines. One of the roles of the UCCJEA is determining what state has jurisdiction over custody issues. In general, which state has jurisdiction depends on how long the child has been a resident.

For example, if you and your child have recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, your child is considered a resident if:

  • They’ve lived there for at least six months before child custody proceedings began and one parent is a resident of the state
  • They are under six months old and the state is where they have lived with their parent since birth

Our Charlotte child custody and divorce attorneys can work with you to determine what’s best for your child and what’s best for your family.

Experienced Charlotte child custody relocation lawyers

If you or your ex-spouse is considering moving out of state with your child, it’s important to speak to the family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC today. We help ensure the legal rights of your child and your family are protected. It’s what we do. You’ll find our offices right off Exit 57 from I-485. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.

Charlotte Office

10851 Sikes Place
Charlotte, NC 28277