Divorce is especially challenging when children are involved. Amidst the emotional upheaval. As Mom and Dad look to start over, either parent might decide to move out of state, even during divorce. While this is doable, it does add layers of complexity that should be considered and discussed with your family law attorney.

Navigating Moves in Divorce: Insights from a Missouri Family Law Attorney

In Missouri, if you’re the custodial parent and plan to move with your child(ren) you must notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days before the intended move.

The non-custodial parent then has the opportunity to object to the move. If there is no objection, the move can proceed. If there is disagreement, a court hearing may be necessary.

Legal Steps to Take When Planning a Move



  • Provide Written Notice: As the custodial parent, it’s your responsibility to inform the other parent about the proposed move through written notice, detailing the intended relocation date, new address, and reasons for the move. You will need to provide a proposal for transporting your child(ren) to visits, and if needed, a new schedule.
  • Obtain Consent or Court Approval: If both parents agree to the move, you can modify the parenting plan accordingly. However, if the non-custodial parent objects or if you can’t reach an agreement, you may need to seek court approval.
  • Court Hearing: In case of disagreement, a court will consider various factors to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interests. Factors such as the reason for the move, the child’s relationship with both parents, educational opportunities, and the impact on visitation schedules will be evaluated.

The Effect on Determining Custody

Relocating out of state can significantly impact custody arrangements. Courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions, and a proposed move can prompt a reassessment of existing custody agreements.

Factors that courts may consider include:

  • Impact on Parent-Child Relationship: How will the move affect the child’s relationship with both parents? Courts aim to preserve meaningful contact with both parents unless there are compelling reasons to limit or alter visitation arrangements.
  • Educational and Social Opportunities: Will the move offer enhanced educational or social opportunities for the child? Courts may consider the potential benefits of the relocation on the child’s overall well-being.
  • Stability and Continuity: Will the move disrupt the child’s stability and continuity of life? Maintaining consistency in the child’s environment is often a crucial factor in custody determinations.
  • Parental Cooperation: Courts assess the willingness of both parents to facilitate a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. Cooperation in the relocation process can influence custody decisions.

Legal Considerations and Challenges

When one parent wishes to relocate with the child, it can raise significant concerns for the non-custodial parent regarding their continued involvement in the child’s life.

Non-custodial parents may fear losing regular contact or influence over important decisions affecting their child’s upbringing.

Court Evaluation

During a relocation dispute, courts carefully evaluate the motives of the relocating parent.

If the move appears to be driven by a desire to limit the other parent’s involvement or to gain a tactical advantage in custody proceedings, it can weigh heavily against the relocating parent’s case.

Child’s Best Interests Standard

Missouri, like many other states, follows the “best interests of the child” standard in custody determinations. This means that any decision made by the court regarding custody or relocation must prioritize the child’s well-being above all else.

Factors such as the child’s emotional ties with each parent, the stability of each parent’s home environment, and the impact of the move on the child’s education and social life are carefully considered.

Mediation and Negotiation

In some cases, mediation or negotiation between parents can help reach a compromise regarding relocation.

Mediation allows parents to work together with the assistance of a neutral third party to develop a mutually agreeable solution that considers the needs and interests of all involved parties, particularly the child.

Legal Representation

Given the complexities and emotional tensions involved in relocation disputes, having experienced legal representation is crucial.

A skilled family law attorney can advocate for your rights, navigate the legal process on your behalf, and present compelling arguments to support your case in court.

Moving out of state with children during or after a divorce is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures.

In Missouri, specific guidelines must be followed to ensure compliance with state law and protect the best interests of the child. With the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney, you can navigate this challenging process with confidence and work toward a resolution that prioritizes the well-being of your child while safeguarding your parental rights.

Contact Bruce Galloway Law today for expert assistance with your divorce and relocation matters.