Can I move to another state from New Hampshire if I have full custody?

Couples find it challenging to discuss child custody without becoming enraged, emotional, or upset with one another. It’s reasonable for parents to disagree over how much time they spend with their children and where that time should be spent. Relocation is one of the most prevalent concerns that arise in families with child custody arrangements. When it comes to moving with a child, there are a few things to consider.

Basics of Child Custody in New Hampshire

Custody agreements come in different forms and sizes, but any custody decision must be made with the kid’s best interests in mind. When deciding on custody, a court will look for an arrangement that best meets the kid’s interests. Your custody order will determine physical custody (where the child lives) and legal custody (decision-making authority on behalf of the child). Parents can share legal custody, physical custody, or a mix of the two. Custody arrangements, holiday and summertime visitation, child support, and possibly transportation fees if one parent moves out of state will all be outlined in your custody order.

A judge will consider several factors when determining the child’s best interests, including each parent’s emotional and financial stability, each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs, the child’s adjustment to the local school and community, each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent, the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s relationship to extended family, and any other relevant issues.

Will a court change custody if one parent relocates?

Under the child relocation laws in New Hampshire, a custody order remains in place until there has been a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification. In some cases, one parent’s move can be considered a substantial change in circumstances that necessitates adjusting custody. For example, in New Hampshire, relocation requirements usually do not apply if one parent relocates closer to the other parent or if a parent relocates inside the child’s present school district.

However, if one parent wants to relocate further away from the child’s school, the moving parent must notify the other parent in advance. A relocation notice must be in writing, including the prospective move’s location, and be delivered at least 60 days before the move. The non-relocating parent might object to the parent’s relocation and ask the court to change custody. A judge will schedule a hearing on the relocation.

What Happens at a Relocation Hearing?

At a relocation hearing, the parent who wants to relocate holds the burden of proof. The parent who is relocating must show the court that:

  • The parent is migrating for a good reason, and 
  • The planned place is appropriate for that reason.

The burden of proof changes to the non-moving parent to prove that the relocation is not in the child’s best interests once the moving parent has established that the transfer is legal. A judge in New Hampshire may consider the following elements when determining whether a custody arrangement is best for a child’s best interests:

  • the reasons for each parent’s desire for or opposition to the transfer
  • each parent’s relationship with their child
  • the impact of the move on the kid’s noncustodial parent’s contact with the child in terms of number and quality
  • the move’s academic, emotional, and economic benefits to the child’s life
  • the child’s developmental needs 
  • Each parent’s willingness to cultivate the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • the child’s adjustment to the local school and community, 
  • the impact of the migration on the child’s extended family relationships, and any other factors the court deems essential.

In one case in New Hampshire, the mother’s plea to move to Montana with her new husband and children was denied by the court. Even though the mother was the primary custodial parent, the court ruled that the transfer was not in the children’s best interests. A long-distance move would make it impossible for the father to maintain his bond with his children. The mother offered summer visits, but the court determined that forcing the children to choose between extracurricular activities and seeing their father would be unjust.

In a different New Hampshire case, the court barred a mother from moving to Florida with her adolescent children. The mother and father of the children met and married in Florida, and the mother desired to return to her extended family. Although the mother was offered a lucrative, flexible position in Florida, the court determined that the distance and time away from the children’s father would be detrimental to their well-being.

Do you need help understanding Child relocation laws in New Hampshire? Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.

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