Once you have an established custody arrangement, it can be difficult to change it. The purpose of a permanent custody plan is to provide a consistent environment for the children, and changing the visitation plan is unsettling. While you may not love the current custody and visitation schedule, you will not be able to change the schedule unless there is a material change in circumstances. If you want to move out of state, you will have to provide a compelling reason for the judge to allow this to happen. When you can't get your ex to agree to a move, you will have to take a hard look at what your options are.
Giving Over Custody to Your Ex
While this option tends to be a last resort for many people, some consider giving full custody over to their ex in order to move away to better their lives. If you already have minimal visitation and you trust your former spouse to care for the needs of your children, this may be your only option if your job is relocating and you have to move with it. This can work in situations where both parties are amicable and allow liberal visitation time whenever possible.
When You Are the Custodial Parent
If you share legal custody but you are the sole physical custodian, you may be able to move if you meet certain criteria. When you can't get your ex to agree to a move, the courts will take a careful look at how the lives of the children would change if the move is granted. If you are offered a better job, want to move to obtain an education, or you want to move in with a new spouse, these are often seen as positive factors which will eventually provide a benefit to the children. The court will consider the current relationship the children have with the non-custodial parent and how the move would affect their visitation schedule.
Children deserve to have both parents in their lives. If one party wants to move out of state for no specific reason, the court system isn't going to change the visitation schedule in their favor. It is always important to take a good look at what is in the best interests of the children and to focus on their needs. When you can take a step back, you will be able to see the big picture more clearly. Contact a family law attorney for more information.