What you need to know about moving after a divorce

With more than 15 years experience as a divorce attorney in Indiana, Lanae Harden, who chairs the Family Law Practice Group at HARDEN JACKSON, LLC, offers information about moving after a divorce.

Job losses during this economic recession have forced many people to relocate in order to downsize their residences or to pursue new job opportunities. A move may also occur following a divorce, especially if one of the former spouses had temporary living arrangements while the sale of the marital home was pending. People may also relocate when a new relationships leads to cohabitation or remarriage.

Divorce and relocation are two of the most stressful changes in an adult’s life. Numerous details and tasks must be managed and completed. When children are involved, the focus is usually whether the change will affect their friends or which school they attend. But how many parents are aware that their move may violate state statute? Under Indiana Code 31-17-2.2, a relocating individual must file notice of their intent to move with the clerk of the court that issued a custody or parenting time order. This requirement applies regardless of whether the move is across the street, across town or to a different state and has caught many parents by surprise, especially those who divorced prior to the adoption of the new law.

Previously, the statute only required filing of a relocation notice when a move was greater than 100 miles. Now, notice must be filed not later than 90 days before the proposed relocation, and the non-relocating parent has 60 days to respond to the filing if the parent seeks to prevent the relocation. The court takes numerous factors into consideration regarding the relocation, including distance involved, and whether the relocating parent is making the move in good faith and has a legitimate reason for the move. The priority of the court is to confirm that the move is in the best interests of the children. If distance is a factor, other matters must be addressed, including how the move will affect parenting time and impact the non-relocating parent’s relationship with the children. This can be a volatile subject for many parents, and the financial and emotional stresses can exacerbate the situation. However, communication and cooperation can minimize the conflict and the parents may be able to negotiate an agreement. Regardless, consulting with an attorney can help either the relocating or non-relocating parent understand how the statute applies to their particular situation and develop a plan of action to address their concerns.