Children are always changing and growing. Any parent can tell you that sometimes it feels difficult just to keep up with their everyday needs. When a couple separates or divorces, the court will enter a parenting plan which is designed to help address those every day needs. Your parenting plan will tell you who has legal custody of the children and when the children are meant to spend time with each parent. Changing a parenting plan is not always simple, and if you are facing a relocation after the entry of the parenting plan, it is important to know how that will factor in to the court’s decision.
In order to change a parenting plan in Minnesota, a parent must first prove that there has been a change of circumstances that has occurred since the entry of the previous order. The parent seeking modification must also prove that the new parenting plan he or she proposes is in the children’s best interest. Relocation of one of the parents can definitely be found to be a change of circumstances such that modifying the parenting plan is required, as a parenting plan that works well when the parents are next door to each other will likely look very different than if one of the parents move across the state or even across the globe.
If you are not the primary custodial parent, you are free to move out of state at any time and for any reason. You will need to go to court to modify your parenting plan so that you can still have parenting time with your child to reflect your new reality. When proposing a new parenting schedule to the court, you will need to keep certain issues in mind, such as the age of the child, the distance you are moving, and what is realistic and best for your child. For example, a long distance parenting schedule for a toddler will look very different than a parenting plan for a teenager. The teenager will have school and will also likely not want to miss extracurricular activities or time with friends more than he or she must.
The process is different if you are moving and want to take the children along with you. Minnesota law provides that you must give notice of your intent to relocate to the other parent. If the other parent agrees, you should memorialize the agreement in writing and file it with the court. If the other parent does not agree, he or she must file a motion with the court asking the court to enter an order providing the children cannot locate out of state. Keep in mind the judge will not order that you cannot relocate, but it is possible that the judge will state you cannot take the children along with you for your relocation.
It is also important to understand that not every single relocation will constitute a change of circumstances. Only those relocations that will impact the ability of the parents to visit with the child are likely to be considered a change of circumstance. In other words, moving with the child to another subdivision in the same town is not likely to result in a modification of the parenting plan without additional facts.
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