Connecticut’s Parental Relocation Laws
While shared custody situations can be beneficial in that they help to preserve a child’s relationship with both parents, they can lead to complicated situations – particularly when one parent wants to move. In 2006, Connecticut lawmakers passed legislation that significantly altered the state’s laws when parents may move after the court has issued a child custody decree. Connecticut parents should be aware of the impact that the change still has on Connecticut child custody matters today in 2014.
Burden of proof showing the move is beneficial
The 2006 change to the law came in response to the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision in Ireland v. Ireland, a 1988 case about parental relocation. The court held in that case that a custodial parent initially had to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she was motivated to move because of a legitimate purpose and that the new location was reasonably related to that purpose. Once a parent had met that initial threshold, the burden of proof shifted to the non-custodial parent to demonstrate that the move was not in the child’s best interests. After the Ireland case, it was much easier for parents to relocate, and many, father’s rights organizations in particular, argued that it was unfair.
Lawmakers changed the law so that the burden of proof is back on the parent looking to relocate. Relocating parents need to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that moving stems from a legitimate purpose, that the new location is reasonably related to that purpose and that the move is in the best interests of the child.
Factors the court considers
The law outlines the factors that the court should weigh when determining whether a relocation is in the best interests of a child, including:
- The reasons each parent has for wanting to relocate or opposing it
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- How much the proposed relocation will impact the child’s contact in the future with the non-relocating parent in both quantity and quality
- How the relocating parent’s and the child’s life may be improved by the move, including financially, emotionally and educationally
- Whether the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent may be maintained through visitation arrangements
Seek legal counsel
Parental relocation matters can become complex. Parents need to make their best case to the court about why a change to a child custody decree should or should not happen, and it is wise for parents to seek the assistance of a skilled child custody attorney to help them do so. An experienced attorney familiar with what courts look for when making parental relocation decisions can help argue a parent’s case most persuasively and ultimately help protect a child’s best interest. If you have questions about parental relocation, speak with a seasoned Connecticut child custody attorney.