Can a Divorced Parent Relocate the Kids Outside of Minnesota?

Apr 30, 2020 | Kathleen M. Newman

One of the thornier issues in a situation where parents are divorced occurs when a divorced parent wants to relocate and take the children out of state.  Experienced attorney Kathleen M. Newman of the DeWitt LLP law firm can help clients navigate this complicated issue to protect parental interests as well as those of the children. 

In the least complicated situation, the non-relocating parent agrees to the move. Any agreement between the parents allowing the relocation should also consider all aspects of the relocation, which includes agreeing to a new parenting time schedule designed to maximize parenting time despite the relocation, whether child support should be renegotiated, and how travel expenses will be paid. Once there is a final agreement on all issues relating to the relocation, the agreement must be reflected in a stipulation and order and filed with the court.

But suppose the non-relocating parent objects to the move?  In Minnesota, courts are very reluctant to allow a parent to relocate with minor children. What standard governs the court’s decision? In making any decision about children, Minnesota courts use the "best interests of the child" standard. A court will scrutinize the reason for the move, and if it determines the purpose of the move is to interfere with court ordered parenting time then the court will refuse to allow the relocation.  Often, such relocation requests are based on the remarriage of the relocating parent, a job change that requires relocation, or a move to be closer to extended family.  When looking at what is best for the child, the court considers such factors as: (1) the nature and quality of the child's relationship with each parent as well as with siblings and other significant people in the child's life; (2) the child's age, development, and needs, and how the move would likely affect the child's development; (3) how feasible it will be to maintain the relationship with the nonrelocating parent; (4) the child’s preference considering the child’s age and maturity; (5) whether relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child and relocating parent; (6) the reasons of each parent for seeking or opposing the relocation and consideration of their pattern of related past conduct; and (7) what effect domestic abuse may have on the child or the parent seeking relocation.

The burden is on the parent seeking to relocate to prove the child's move to another state will be in the child's best interests.  However, if the parent requesting the move has been a victim of domestic abuse by the person opposing the move, then the burden shifts to the parent opposing the move to prove it is in the child's best interests to stay in Minnesota.

Relocations involving minor children raises sticky issues when the non-relocating parent objects.   Attorney Kathleen M. Newman of the DeWitt LLP law firm compassionately and effectively help parents resolve these issues.   Please contact her for a consultation to review the specifics of your situation.