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Indiana Family Law: Relocation Issues Pertaining to Child Custody

If you are divorced or separated with children or have a child with someone to whom you were never married, you should be aware of that Indiana law requires you to notify the other parent that you are planning to move. Indiana law regarding notice of intention to relocate is found at Indiana Code 31-17-2.2 et seq.  The Indiana Code can be found at the Access Indiana website (www.in.gov). 

The law applies to parents who are divorced, separated or never married. In the event either parent intends to move his/her principal residence for 60 days or more, the moving parent must file a Notice of Intent with the Clerk of the court that issued the order and send a copy of the notice to the non-moving parent, no later than 90 days before the intended move. 

The requirement to provide notice of relocation does not require a move out or state or of a certain distance. The law requires notice to the other parent even if you are moving within the state or across the street.

The Notice of Intent must set forth the following: the address of the intended new residence and mailing address if applicable; the home telephone number of the new address; the date of the intended move; a brief statement of the reasons for the proposed move; a proposal for the other parent’s parenting time with the child(ren) after the move takes place; and a statement notifying the non-moving parent that he/she has 60 days to file an objection or request a change of parenting time with the court.

If the non-moving parent objects to the proposed move or requests a change in his/her parenting time with the children because of the proposed move, the non-moving parent must file an objection no later than 60 days after he or she receives the notice of intent to relocate. The Court is likely to schedule a hearing to decide whether the moving parent should be allowed to move, especially if the move requires the child(ren) to move. Some of the factors the Court will evaluate are whether the moving parent has a legitimate reason for moving and the move is proposed in good faith. If the moving parent proves to the Court that the move is for legitimate reason and in good faith, the burden is then on the parent objecting to the move to show the Court that the move is not in the best interest of the child(ren).

Some of the factors the Court will use to review the best interest of the child include:  1) the distance involved; 2) the hardship and expense for the non-moving parent to continue to exercise parenting time with the child; 3) feasibility of preserving a relationship between the child and the non-moving parent in the event of a move including the ability to have suitable parenting time and financial considerations; 4) is there a pattern of conduct by the moving parent to promote or thwart the non-moving parent’s relationship with the child; 5) the reasons why the moving party is moving and the reasons the non-moving parent objects to the move; 6) any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.

Relocation cases are difficult for most parents. In some cases, mediation is a method to attempt to address the issues in order to develop a compromise or to change parenting time without the expense and emotion of a trial.