How to Win a Relocation Custody Case in Minnesota
When parents live apart after a divorce in Minnesota, custody and parenting time arrangements are put in place for the child or children. But, sometimes, the custodial parent wants to move out of state with the child.
This sets up a complex child relocation case, as the non-custodial parent often objects to the long-distance move.
If you want to relocate with your child to another state after a Minnesota divorce, can you do so without the other parent’s consent? How can you build a winning relocation case to convince the court that moving is in the best interest of your child?
This guide will provide crucial tips to win physical custody and permission to move away with your kids.
What Does Minnesota Law Say About Relocation?
In Minnesota, either parent needs consent from the other parent or the court before relocating with the children after a custody case. According to Minnesota Statute 518.175, a parent with custody cannot move the residence of the child to another state without the other parent’s consent or an order granting permission from the court.
A relocation case is essentially a custody proceeding to determine whether the move is allowed. The parent seeking to relocate with the child will have the burden of proving the move is in the child’s best interests unless the parent requesting the move has been a victim of domestic violence by the other parent. If you want to increase your chances of winning a relocation custody case, it is essential to understand the applicable law and common arguments.
How Does a Minnesota Court Decide Custody Relocation Cases?
Minnesota courts ultimately aim to rule in favor of the child’s best interests in relocation custody cases. State laws require judging these move-away cases based on factors like:
- Reasons for moving
- Potential advantages/disadvantages of relocation
- Child’s preference (if appropriate)
- Feasibility of parenting plan to preserve non-custodial parent’s rights
- The overall impact on a child’s physical and emotional well-being
The relocating parent typically has the burden of proving how moving would be better for the child than the status quo. They cannot merely argue it would benefit themselves.
Rather, they must convincingly demonstrate that uprooting the child serves their best interests from an overall well-being standpoint. It’s not an easy standard to meet.
Courts also cannot attempt to punish the relocating parent by denying their request. The analysis must focus squarely on what is best for the child.
How to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Relocation Custody Case
Winning physical custody permission to relocate with your child out of state requires a strategic legal approach. Follow these tips from our experienced family law attorneys to build a convincing relocation case:
While relocation cases are complex, here are some tips to keep in mind to help win permission to move with your child to another state:
Seek an Attorney’s Advice
Consulting a family law attorney can help devise arguments tailored to your unique circumstances. An experienced child custody lawyer can review your case facts and applicable law to build the strongest case. They can also help negotiate settlements, represent you in mediation, and advocate for you in contested hearings.
Build a Strong Relocation Plan
Courts want to see you have a well-thought-out relocation plan. Be prepared to explain the reasons for the move in detail. Provide the court with your job offer letter, mortgage approval, or other proof about why the relocation is necessary. Explain how the move will enhance income, education, housing, and other benefits. Also, provide a specific parenting time schedule that allows frequent contact with the non-custodial parent.
Highlight Benefits for Your Child
The outcome depends on the impact on the child. Argue how the move will improve your child’s life. For example, describe benefits like attending a better school, having a larger home, being closer to extended family, and participating in more extracurricular activities. Also, courts may want psychological evaluations assessing how the move will affect the emotional needs of the child.
A key factor is maintaining relationships between the child and both parents. If you’re the custodial parent, highlight that the move won’t deprive the non-custodial parent of access. Propose a visitation schedule that allows frequent and meaningful contact through visits, video calls, holidays, and summer vacations. Demonstrate your commitment to fostering the child’s relationship with the other parent despite the distance.
Request an Evidentiary Hearing
If the other parent objects to relocation, request an evidentiary hearing. This is a trial before a judge where arguments and evidence can be presented. Without a hearing, the court may deny the move without evaluating all the facts. Prepare extensively for the hearing to prove the requested move is in the child’s best interest.
Follow Court Orders
Before filing for relocation, ensure you comply with all current court orders like custody and child support. Any non-compliance will hurt your chances of winning. Also, do not break orders by moving without approval or disrupting the current parenting schedule. Illegally taking the child could lead to sanctions, loss of custody, and criminal charges.
Highlight Past Involvement
Emphasize how you have been actively involved in raising the child and meeting their needs. Provide proof of your parental abilities, like school records, medical documents, photos, and testimony from teachers or doctors. Evidence of being a fit, engaged parent makes the court more comfortable allowing relocation.
Seek Joint Consent When Possible
It is ideal if both parents mutually agree to the move. Negotiated agreements have a higher approval rate. Offer compromises like extended summer visits or paying for transportation costs for parenting time. However, if the other parent objects or makes unreasonable demands, do not settle for less than what is in your child’s best interests.
Consider Mediation First
Mediation can help resolve relocation disputes out of court. A neutral third-party mediator facilitates compromise between parents. Many courts require mediation before a contested hearing. Be open but firm on arguments during mediation. However, if no agreement is reached, mediation helps assess the other side’s positions.
Working With a Child Relocation Attorney
As you can see, relocation custody cases involve many complex legal issues. Navigating this process requires experience. The child custody lawyers at Martine Law have successfully represented clients in Minnesota move-away cases for years. We craft compelling arguments tailored to the facts of your case to demonstrate that relocation is in your child’s best interests.
Our team of experienced child custody attorneys will stand by your side as a fierce advocate and guide you to a successful outcome. From negotiating out-of-court settlements to prevailing in a contested hearing, we have the right strategies to help you win permission to relocate with your children after divorce. Each case is unique, but our attorneys thoroughly understand Minnesota law and how family courts decide these cases. Contact us today to schedule a case evaluation.