When one parent has primary physical custody of a child the other parent may feel powerless if the physical custodian decides they want to relocate to another area with the child. In Washington, DC the courts must consider the “best interest factors” in determining whether a party is allowed to move with the child. You can read about the “best interest factors” here. In addition to those factors the court must also consider ten additional factors when making a ruling on whether the physical custodian can relocate with the child. Those factors are:
- the strength of the relationship of the child with each parent;
- the individual resources, temperament, and special development needs of the child;
- the psychological stability of the relocating parent and the parenting effectiveness of both parents;
- the success of the current custody arrangement and the effect the proposed relocation will have on its stability and continuity;
- the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed relocation, including the potential disruption of the child’s social and school life and a comparison of the educational, health, and extracurricular opportunities the child would have in each location;
- any benefits to the child likely to be derived from the parents’ improved circumstances;
- the feasibility of an alternative visitation and access schedule, including the geographic proximity of and travel time between the parental homes as this relates to the practical considerations of the child’s residential schedule;”
- the motivations of the parents in proposing and opposing relocation;
- the effect the move will have on the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent, considering the extent to which visitation rights have been allowed and exercised, the level of support the custodial parent has shown for the continuation and growth of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent, and whether there is any established pattern of promoting or thwarting that relationship;
- the extent of any conflict between the parents and the recentness of the marital separation.
Only after considering and making findings on all of the above can a court grant another party with permission to move with the child.