Missouri law governs the relocation of a child subject to a custody order. If you have a child custody judgment in Missouri, it likely contains the language of Section 452.377 of the Missouri Revised Statutes (sometimes referred to as the “relocation statute”).
We often hear clients who are planning to (or have already) moved from one part of St. Louis to another say that they did not think this statute was applicable because they were not moving out of the St. Louis area. However, relocation for purposes of this statute means any change in the child’s principal residence for 90 days or more (unless the change is temporary). This means that if you are moving across the street and changing the residential address of the child, you are supposed to comply with the requirements of § 452.377. Often in the St. Louis area, parents need assistance relocating from one county to another, such as a move from St. Louis County to St. Charles County.
A parent who intends to move his/her residence must give written notice of the proposed relocation to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 60 days prior to the proposed relocation.
One of the purposes of the relocation statute is to provide the parent who is not moving notice of where his/her child will potentially be living. If the parent receiving notice does not agree to the child moving, he/she has an opportunity to file an objection with the Circuit Court. Once the notice of relocation has been received by the other party, the non-moving parent has 30 days to file an objection with the court; otherwise the relocation may take place. If the two parties agree that relocation is going to be best for everyone, they can create together a modified visitation and custody schedule and parenting plan. This new plan would then be submitted to the court and likely approved.
However, it is often the case that one parent does not agree to the child relocating.
When a parent does not have the consent of the non-moving parent to relocate the child, the relocation may still take place by order of the Circuit Court. In such cases, the party seeking to relocate must show that the proposed relocation is in the best interests of the child. In determining whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child, the Court will look to those statutory factors that govern all custody decisions in Missouri.
The decision to relocate is a big one that will result in a long and challenging process that is best handled by an experienced family law attorney. Kathleen Shaul and Valerie Craig are strong advocates for their clients with relocation cases. For help protecting your legal rights regarding relocation, call 314-499-1476 or contact The Law Offices of Kathleen E. Shaul to arrange for a consultation and evaluation of your case.