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Child custody and parental out-of-state relocation

Regardless of whether a child's parents are divorced or were never together, issues related to child custody and visitation must be determined. Due to the importance of these matters, and to help ensure that both parents abide by the terms of an agreed-upon child custody and visitation agreement, many parents turn to the courts for help.

The terms of a custody and visitation agreement are legally binding and enforceable. This means that parents who breach such terms may be subject to court action and could jeopardize their existing custody or visitation rights and arrangements.

For parents who share custody of a minor child, custody issues can become further complicated if a custodial parent wishes to move and relocate to another state. In cases where a child is too young to consent to a move and he or she was either born in or has lived in Massachusetts for five or more years, the state has jurisdiction over custody decisions and the authority to enforce any related orders.
Provided these conditions are met, under Massachusetts law, a custodial parent is prohibited from relocating with a child out of state without the noncustodial parent's permission.

In cases where the noncustodial parent does not sanction the custodial parent's move with a son or daughter out of state, parents should turn to the courts for guidance. For a custodial parent, it's critical to prove that an out-of-state move is in a child's best interest. However, in addition to any positives associated with a move, a judge will also consider the negative implications including a child's ability to maintain a relationship with a noncustodial parent.

When disputes over child custody and visitation matters arise, emotions can get the better of some parents and things can quickly get out of hand and cause irreparable harm to a co-parents' relationship. To prevent a dispute from escalating, it's important to reach out to an attorney for advice and assistance.

Source: Massachusetts Legal Websites Project, "Moving out of Massachusetts with your children," Oct. 2, 2015

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