Once a divorce decree is issued in Minnesota (or anywhere else), and if Minnesota has jurisdiction to address issues involving divorce, a parent can request to relocate to another state with the minor child. This is done by bringing a Motion before the Court. No such Motion is necessary if the other parent provides advance, written consent. However, in the majority, if not all of the cases, the non-moving parent may not provide consent. In such instances, the party wishing to relocate can bring a Motion before the Court and request that the Court grant permission to relocate.
The following factors are considered when a request to move out of state from Minnesota is made (Minn. Stat. § 5.18.175, subd. 3 (2012)):
(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 educational 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.
Although the Court must consider the above-referenced factors, this does not prevent the Court from assessing other factors, especially if they come under the category of “Best Interests” of the Minor Children. In submitting such a Motion, it is very important to provide as much relevant detail as possible. For example, it is important to demonstrate to the Court that the children will not suffer from the move and that their quality of life will be enhanced after the move takes place. The Court should also be provided the relevant reasons why such a move is being contemplated (for example, the party requesting the move might have secured a new job or a better job, etc.). It is important to understand that the Court will not grant permission to move with the minor children if the Court believes that the move is being made in order to interfere with the parenting time of the parent who will remain in Minnesota.
In cases involving Relocation, it is advisable to propose a specific schedule for the parent who will continue to reside in Minnesota. The schedule will, of course, be different than the existing parenting time schedule. However, the schedule proposed should be comparable to the current schedule. In cases involving relocation, it is also sometimes beneficial to consider input from a licensed child psychologist, who has dealt with issues involving relocation with the minor children and the impact on the minor children of such a move.
Ultimately, a Motion to Relocate with the minor children is extremely challenging. A Judge, understandably, is placed in a difficult situation. If the Judge allows the move, for sure, it will impact the parent who shall remain in Minnesota. If the Judge does not allow the move, the parent who was proposing the move is going to be prejudiced. Most importantly, in either event, the minor children will be impacted in some way. Therefore, Motions for Relocation must be brought properly and with the requisite level of detail and attention.