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What influences a judge to approve parental relocation?

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Child Custody

When a parent wishes to modify child custody orders to relocate with their child, the decision to approve or deny the request can significantly impact the child’s well-being. 

In Indiana, judges consider several important factors when making this decision.

Best interests of the child

The child’s best interests are always the primary consideration in parental relocation cases. Judges look at how the move will affect the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs. They assess whether the relocation will improve the child’s quality of life, such as better schools, safer neighborhoods, or access to extended family.

Impact on relationships

Judges evaluate how the move will affect the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent. Maintaining strong bonds with both parents is important for a child’s development. The court examines if the move would disrupt this relationship and whether reasonable visitation arrangements can preserve it.

Reason for the move

The parent’s motive for relocating is another key factor. Judges consider if the move is for valid reasons, such as a job opportunity, better living conditions, or to be closer to family. If the court suspects the move is intended to interfere with the other parent’s visitation rights, it may deny the request.

Child’s preference

In Indiana, a child’s preference is considered if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express a reasoned choice. While the child’s wishes are not the deciding factor, they contribute to the overall assessment.

Stability and continuity

The court examines the stability and continuity of the child’s current environment. Judges look at how long the child has lived in their current home, attended the same school, and participated in community activities. Disrupting this stability is a significant consideration.

Feasibility of visitation

Judges also consider whether the non-relocating parent can maintain frequent and meaningful contact with the child. This includes assessing travel costs, distances, and the availability of electronic communication methods.

Judges in Indiana carefully weigh these factors to ensure that the decision to modify the parenting plan serves the best interests of the child, balancing the benefits of the relocation against the potential impacts on the child’s relationships and stability.