How crucial it is to follow the Indiana Relocation Laws carefully whether you are the parent who wants to move, or you are the parent who wants to stop the children from moving
Every case I have litigated where one parent wanted to move away and take the children, there was one common theme: follow the relocation statute to a T, or you will be sorry. Judges expect parents to follow all rules and orders when it comes to raising their children with an ex, but the one area of family law that both sides must carefully navigate is relocation. Some custodial parents think just because they have primary physical custody, that they can move anywhere they want with the children whenever they want. That is far from the reality in Indiana.
A brief synopsis of the relocation timeline is as follows:
- Relocating parent decides he/she wants to move somewhere 20 miles farther away from the other parent’s house.
- Relocating parent needs to secure a new job where he/she is moving earning the same or more than current earnings; and this new work schedule should not interfere with your ability to care for your children, or, specific daily schedules need to be outlined with childcare providers
- Find a new daycare or before/after school care options with schedules and costs
- Find new doctors and/or specialists for the children
- Learn everything possible about the community and child friendly options
- Figure out where the children would attend school and why
- Find out options for sports, lessons, extra-curricular activities for the children to participate
- Come up with a game plan for how the children will see the other parent; offering more time than the Guidelines where distance is a major factor and willingness to pay for the children to see the other parent is a strong proposal in Court that Judges like to see
- Relocating parent files the formal Notice of Intent of Relocate with the Court. It is important to review and follow the notice requirements set forth in the statute; IC 31-17-2.2.
- Serve the other parent pursuant to statute with your written notice
- The other parent has 20 days to respond, object, request a modification of custody, or request for a temporary restraining order preventing the children from moving until a final hearing is conducted on keeping them here, or, the other parent can tell the Court he/she agrees with the children moving.
- If the other parent objects, then the Court will schedule a hearing to determine first if the relocating parent has a good, faith and legitimate reason for the move. Then, if that burden is met, then the Court needs to know from both sides why or why it is not in the children’s best interests to move.
- Following hearing, the Court has 90 days to make its written final decision unless otherwise discussed with the parties about a different timeline. Rarely are decisions given in court at the end of hearings, but sometimes, they are.
It is important to comply with all requirements of the relocation statute or the Judge may allow the parent to move with the children, or prevent them from moving, based on technical details and filing deadlines. For this reason, it is worth your time and money to consult with an experienced family law attorney who is knowledgeable of the ins and outs of relocation cases in Indiana.