Relocation of a divorced parent with a child in Connecticut
On behalf of Robert Skovgaard
While such a proposal can be difficult, state law provides a framework for coming to a decision that is in the child’s best interest.
In this day and age, it is not unusual for people to move to another town or state, or even a different country, for a variety of reasons, including new jobs or relationships, or a desire to live closer to family. Whatever the motivation, it becomes a more complicated proposition when the person who wants to relocate is the divorced parent of a minor child.
The child’s best interests
In Connecticut, parental relocation is governed by a state statute that dictates what the parent who seeks permission to move with the child must prove in court as well as what the judge must consider in making the decision whether to approve the move. If approved, the court will likely also need to modify the orders concerning visitation and parenting time with more distance between the parties.
Sometimes in this situation, the divorced parents are able to negotiate an agreement that modifies the current custody arrangement without having to resort to a court trial. Often, they will retain attorneys to assist in the negotiation, which may be traditionally done through the lawyers or even through mediation.
Connecticut law does not take a relocation request lightly. If it ends up before a state court judge, as in any legal matter involving a minor child, the most important consideration will always be the child’s best interest. In light of that, Connecticut statute requires that the parent who is proposing relocation must prove three things to the judge by a preponderance of evidence:
- The proposed move is for a legitimate purpose.
- Considering the purpose of the move, the proposed location is reasonable.
- The proposed relocation would be in the child’s best interests.
In making these determinations, the judge is required to weight five specific factors:
- The positions of each parent on the proposed move
- The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent
- The impact the move away would have on the “quantity and the quality” of the child’s contact going forward with the parent remaining behind
- Enrichment of the child’s and moving parent’s lives “economically, emotionally and educationally” by the proposed move
- Whether appropriate visitation arrangements are feasible that would preserve the child’s relationship with the nonrelocating parent
However, while the judge must consider these five factors, he or she is not limited to them. Other relevant matters that shed light on the child’s best interests should also be presented in court to inform the judge’s decision-making.
Parent relocation can be stressful for all concerned, understandably. It is smart for anyone in this position to seek legal advice as soon as possible to for guidance and representation in the legal matters that will arise.
Attorney Robert Skovgaard of the Law Office of Robert A. Skovgaard in Stamford represents parents in relocation matters throughout the state of Connecticut.