Relocation Clauses for Parenting Plan
Relocation can wreak havoc with parenting plans. While the court can’t interfere with a person’s constitutional rights to live anywhere they please, it can change the custodial parent of the child. There are different relocation clause options in divorce agreements to address this issue ahead of time.
First, you can require notice prior to any move so that the objecting party has time to ask the court to review custody. Here’s an example from a Parenting Agreement for my state:
Under Maryland law, a move out of state with the minor children by the parent with legal custody constitutes a change in circumstances that warrants a review of the residential arrangements. Therefore, the parent with legal custody shall notify the other parent at least 45 days in advance of any contemplated move (and sooner if possible), and the parents shall cooperate to work out a new visitation schedule. In the event that a new visitation schedule cannot be agreed upon by the parents, the parents shall promptly submit the issues raised by relocation to mediation.
Second you can set up an alternative time-sharing schedule in your Parenting Plan, to become effective in the event one parent moves over a certain distance from their current residence. Here’s the introduction to such an alternative schedule:
If the parents live more than one (1) hour apart driving door to door, the following schedule will be presumed to be in the best interests of the children. It provides the minimum visitation and parents are encouraged to agree on additional visitation.
Finally, you could try to have a non-relocation provision in your Parenting Plan, such as the following example:
The parents agree that neither one will relocate more than 50 miles from their current residence without the consent of the other or an order of the court.
Note that the court has the power to override this non-relocation provision if it finds that relocation is in the best interest of the children. You may want to add language stating that the parties agree that the best interest of the children lies in being raised in the present location.