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Custody and Moving Out of State: What is the Kentucky Law Regarding Child Relocations?

Children and Shared Custody - John H. Ruby & Associates

During divorce proceedings, various terms and conditions are agreed upon that are entered into the final decree. One of the most important areas that is covered during these proceedings is child custody. Kentucky now has a legal presumption that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interests of the child. The court might not ultimately grant joint custody, but unless one of the parents has a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or abusing the children, a non-custodial parent is, at the very least, likely to be granted liberal visitation rights.

When the final custody arrangement is agreed on, you might enter into it with the very best of intentions. But sometimes, circumstances change, and life necessitates a move out of state. There are several possible reasons for this, such as:

  • A new job or job transfer
  • A close family member that becomes ill
  • Getting remarried to someone who lives out of state
  • The chance to obtain higher education in a different state
  • Other life changes

Whatever your reason for wanting to move with your child outside the state of Kentucky, there is a good chance it will cause complications between you and your ex-spouse. Your ex will probably not see the move the same way you do. They might think you are trying to deprive them of the visitation time they were awarded, and they might fight you on it.

Kentucky Child Relocation Laws

Parents are always free to move on their own whenever they want, but when a parent wants to move a child out of Kentucky or more than 100 miles from their present residence, they must give written notice to the other parent at least 60 days prior to the move. In addition, the child relocation cannot take place without a written agreement (between the parents) or a court order (KRS § 403.270).

In other words, there are two ways to move with your child out of state. The easy way (which may not be so easy depending on your relationship with your ex) is to get the other parent to agree to allow the move. Try reasoning with them and reassure them that this move is needed because of your situation, and that it is in the child’s best interests.

Try to come up with a workable visitation schedule. Offer them holiday breaks, summer vacations, whatever is reasonable and necessary to get their approval. Yes, you might have to give up some things you don’t like, but if you can’t get them to agree and the issue ends up in court, you will still probably have to give up some of the same things. But it is much better to reach this point without an expensive court battle.

If you have tried talking to the other parent and they will not agree to the move no matter what you offer them, then you will have no choice but to take it to court. During the proceeding, the court will consider whether or not relocating out of state is in the child’s best interest. To make this determination, they will examine several factors, such as:

  • The wishes of the parents;
  • The wishes of the child (if the child is mature enough to provide meaningful input);
  • The relationship of the child with each parent, and each parent’s involvement in the child’s life;
  • The physical and mental health of everyone involved;
  • The distance of the proposed move;
  • Arguments in favor of the move;
  • Arguments against the move;
  • The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with the non-moving parent (if the move is approved).

Ultimately, the court’s decision will come down to whether or not the advantages of the move (for the child) outweigh the potential harm the move could cause them. This decision will be arrived at largely based on the strength of the arguments presented by each side and their legal counsel.

One final point that is very important. Do NOT, under any circumstances, move your child out of state if the other parent disagrees and the court has not ruled on the issue. If you leave the state without the court’s permission, a judge can put out an order for the immediate return of your child. This can result in serious sanctions and penalties against you. You could even end up being charged with parental kidnapping and lose custody of your child.

Need Help with Child Custody and Relocation Issues? Call John H Ruby and Associates for Assistance

Whether you want to move with your child out of state or you are trying to prevent a child relocation, John H. Ruby and Associates is here to help! If you are in the Louisville, LaGrange, Shepherdsville or Shelbyville, KY areas, call our office today at 502-895-2626 or message us through our online contact form to schedule an appointment.