My Ex Wants to Move My Child Out of State

November 23, 2011 - by Eric Anderson

Your child primarily resides with you Ex spouse/partner.  You've got parenting time with your child and you're communicating well with your Ex.  Everything is going fine until your Ex decides that they are planning on moving with the child to another state.  Maybe they are moving for employment prospects or perhaps a new relationship.  You are naturally upset because the move will certainly mean decreased parenting time for you with your child.  Can your Ex move with your child out-of-state?

The short answer is, yes, your Ex can move with your child out-of-state.  HOWEVER, without your consent, it will not be easy.  First, make sure to check your divorce decree or custody order to see if it addresses a possible out-of-state move.  Sometimes, parties have predetermined the standard they will use in these situations.  If your order is silent on the issue, then the current Minnesota law will govern.

Minn. Stat. Section 518.175, Subd. 3(a) states:

"The parent with whom the child resides shall not move the residence of the child to another state except upon order of the court or with the consent of the other parent, if the other parent has been given parenting time by the decree.  If the purpose of the move is to interfere with parenting time given to the other parent by the decree, the court shall not permit the child's residence to be moved to another state." 

If you don't consent to the move, but your Ex still wants to go ahead, the court will apply a "best interests" standard in making the determination on whether the move will be allowed.  Unless there has been domestic abuse, the burden of proof will be on your Ex to show to the court that the move will be in the best interests of the child.  Note that the standard is not what is in the best interests of the parent, but is what's in the best interests of the child.  The court will consider all relevant factors, including the factors listed in Minn. Stat. Section 518.175, Subd. 3(b):

  1. The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child's relationship with the person proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating 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, taking into consideration special needs of the child;
  3. The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating person and the child through suitable parenting time arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties;
  4. The child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child;
  5. Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the person seeking the relocation either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the nonrelocating person;
  6. Whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of the life for both the custodial parent seeking the relocation and the child including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or education opportunity;
  7. The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation; and
  8. The effect on the safety and welfare of the child, or of the parent requesting to move the child's residence, of domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01.

Before resorting to fighting the battle in court, try and talk to your Ex about his/her reasons for the move and explain how it will affect your relationship with the child.  Perhaps try going to mediation to resolve the matter (your decree may require this anyways) before bringing the matter into court.  Hopefully, you will be able to reach a compromise, but if not, the judge will have to make the decision based on the above standards.

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.