How Often Do You See Cases for Relocation in Family Court?
We are seeing more and more cases as people get relocated for work or, with the long-lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, work remotely. People no longer have to work in downtown Louisville; they can live in Southern Indiana and just telecommute. Relocations already consume a high percentage of our cases, and I don’t expect to see a decrease anytime soon.
Many parents don’t realize the logistics of moving to another state when they share a child with someone else, so they don’t plan accordingly. We had a case recently involving a mother who wanted to return to where her family lives in Alaska, which is a substantial move. She and the child’s father hadn’t been married, so there were no child support cases. This issue of properly relocating sometimes comes up even before there’s a case pending. Most people know to follow the rules when they’re in front of the judge or in the middle of a divorce or child custody case; but for those without a case, they still need a lawyer to help them plan for relocation with a child. If the mother had left this area without our help, the father could have filed a restraining order with the local judge to get the child returned. She probably would not be living in Alaska with her child right now. If you have a child with someone, it’s important to consider the planning aspect of a move and seek good advice from a lawyer. Doing so now is much easier than cleaning up a mess later.
- What Steps Should a Divorced Person Take Prior to Relocation?
- How Do Courts Decide Custody Issues When One Parent Wants to Relocate?
How Does the Relocation of One-Party Impact Spousal Support or Child Support?
One of the issues that comes up with relocations is something most people aren’t aware of. There’s a technical law we operate under when we handle these types of cases called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which most states have passed. Parents often don’t understand the significance of the state in which their case was first decided. Whether it’s a divorce or just a child support case, most states have this law to prevent people from “forum shopping”, or choosing the court with the most favorable laws.
To illustrate, let’s say that parents get divorced in Indiana, and after the fact, the dad learns that he may end up having to pay for college, which he doesn’t want to do. He knows that Kentucky does not require him to pay for college, so he files and does all the paperwork after relocating to Kentucky to take advantage of their child support law. The Uniform law says that a new state could perhaps modify his existing order, but overall, the underlying calculator, duration, etc. will be governed by the state in which the parties got the original order set up. Again, that’s to prevent the father from hopping around the United States to change the underlying law that applies to supporting his child.
Depending on where the parent moves, that could be a good or bad thing. If someone moves from here to, perhaps, Colorado, the higher standard of living in the new state is not taken into account because the old state’s law still applies. We try to help our clients plan and budget accordingly. Maybe they need to ask for an order that says that their child’s extracurricular expenses are going to be paid. There are tools to try to help pay more of the child’s expenses. But anybody who expects to just move to a new state and suddenly have that state’s child support calculator apply to their maintenance or alimony or child support, will soon learn that their original state’s laws still apply even years down the road, even if both parties have moved from the other state.
I had a case recently where everybody used to live in California; Mom, Dad, and the child. Their divorce was done in that state, and the maintenance order was put in place for child support. Then, they all moved to Kentucky and didn’t want to go back out to California and deal with attorneys out there in the courts. The Kentucky court let them modify and discuss things here; however, the Kentucky judge actually used California law, which is permitted, so that underlying law is still controlled. Again, couples often don’t appreciate the significance and the long-term obligation that comes with choosing the state in which to file for divorce.
For more information on Cases for Relocation in Family Court, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (502) 512-0024 today.
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