Divorce

How to Win a Relocation Custody Case in Louisiana in 2021

You may be wondering if you can relocate with your child once the divorce and custody battle is finally finished. The court has ordered custody and now you are trying to decide how to move on with your life. There’s a good chance you may want to relocate to another city or state and reestablish with your children. 

There are numerous reasons why you may want to relocate with your child: better schools, better employment opportunities, etc. Often, you can provide a better future for your child by moving to a new location. However, there are a few rules you must follow. 

Before you accept a new job far away and jump in the moving van, you may want to read what the law says before making any big moving decisions. Louisiana family law has child relocation requirements that must be met. Some moves are allowed while others are not. It’s important that you follow the law or there could be harsh repercussions. You will want to hire a Louisiana divorce attorney for this type of matter. 

How Far Can You Move with Your Child After Your Divorce is Finalized?

First, you have to determine the child’s principal residence. This is where the court has determined the child to live. If there has not been a court order issued, the child’s principal residence is the home where the parents have agreed the child is to live. If there is no agreement or order by the judge, the child’s principal residence is where he or she has spent most of their time within the past six months or more. 

Once the child’s primary residence is determined, your next task is measuring how far you intend to move. If the judge has issued a court order that awarded custody, you can only move up to 75 miles from your child’s primary residence before triggering the Louisiana child relocation laws.

There are some situations that require sending a “Notice of Intent to Relocate” to anyone entitled to notice. There are some situations when court authorization to relocate is not needed or required. 

When You Don’t Need Court Authorization to Relocate

You don’t need to get Court permission to relocate in certain conditions:

  • You’re not moving more than 75 miles from the child’s main residence;
  • You’ve gotten express written consent from the person you share equal custody with per court orders;
  • The individual that is entitled to notice does not file an objection to your relocation. You’re required to send a notice, but they must file their objection to your notice within 30-days from when they receive the notice. 

How to Send Notice of Intent to Relocate

If your move triggered the Louisiana relocation laws, you MUST send your Notice of Intent to Relocate before moving. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:355.5 explains exactly how to do it and who to send it to. You MUST follow the rules or your ex could bring you back to court and possibly make you move back with the child. 

When Do I Have to Get Court Authorization to Relocate?

There are a few instances where you will have to go get the judge to authorize your move. They include: 

  • When the person entitled to notice files a timely objection to your relocation; or
  • You have not received express written consent to the proposed relocation from the proper individual.

These situations will require you to get court authorization and may require a hearing to determine whether or not you can relocate. 

Once you have sent your Notice of Intent to Relocate to the proper person, you have a few steps depending on what happens next. 

The Other Party Filed their Objection to Relocation in Time

If you sent the Notice of Intent to Relocate by following the rules outlined in La. R.S. 9:355.5 exactly and any person entitled to notice files their objection with the Court in time, then you must go to Court and ask for authorization to relocate. You may have to present your case in front of the judge so now would be a good time to consult with a Louisiana divorce attorney if you haven’t already. 

The Other Parent or Person Has Equal Physical Custody 

If you’ve been to court and a judgment has been rendered giving the other parent equal physical custody, then you must send them a Notice of Intent to Relocate. Once they receive the notice they can either respond by allowing you to relocate or they can disagree. Be sure to get their express written consent if they agree with the relocation or you could face difficulties trying to prove it if they change their mind. 

If the other parent does not agree and files an objection to the relocation, then you will have to get Court authorization to relocate. If they do not answer or provide you with an express written consent, then you still have to get Court authorization because the person has equal physical custody rights to the child. The only way to avoid getting Court authorization or having a court hearing is to get the express written consent of the other parent or person. 

You can’t simply take the other person’s word in a case like this. Verbal agreements won’t work and you can’t use their silence as an answer. You MUST get express written consent before you can relocate. 

If You Must Get Court Authorization

If you send your Notice of Intent to Relocate and the other party does not provide you with their express written consent to the relocation or that individual objects, then your next step is to obtain Court authorization. 

You will have to file a Rule to Show Cause as to why your relocation should not be granted and have the other person served with the petition. It is highly recommended that you hire a Louisiana divorce attorney to assist you with these proceedings as they can end up complex.

The Factors a Judge Uses to Determine a Contested Child Relocation

Once you file a Rule to Show Cause for the child relocation, you will have a court date set. The judge will listen to the facts of your case and make a decision as to whether or not you can relocate with your child. You will have the opportunity to present evidence and argue your case. Here are the factors from Louisiana Revised Statute 9:355.14:

A.  In reaching its decision regarding a proposed relocation, the court shall consider all relevant factors in determining whether relocation is in the best interest of the child, including the following:

(1)  The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the  relationship of the child with the person proposing relocation and with the non-relocating person, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.

(2)  The age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development.

(3)  The feasibility of preserving a good relationship between the non-relocating person and the child through suitable physical custody or visitation arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties.

(4)  The child’s views about the proposed relocation, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.

(5)  Whether there is an established pattern of conduct by either the person seeking or the person opposing the relocation, either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party.

(6)  How the relocation of the child will affect the general quality of life for the child, including but not limited to financial or emotional benefit and educational opportunity.

(7)  The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation.

(8)  The current employment and economic circumstances of each person and how the proposed relocation may affect the circumstances of the child.

(9)  The extent to which the objecting person has fulfilled his financial obligations to the person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and community property, and alimentary obligations.

(10)  The feasibility of a relocation by the objecting person.

(11)  Any history of substance abuse, harassment, or violence by either the person seeking or the person opposing relocation, including a consideration of the severity of the conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.

(12)  Any other factors affecting the best interest of the child.

B.  The court may not consider whether the person seeking relocation of the child may relocate without the child if relocation is denied or whether the person opposing relocation may also relocate if relocation is allowed.

Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. You must speak with a Louisiana divorce attorney for legal advice. This website does not intend to give legal advice in any way, shape or form.

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