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Can I Move to Another State if I Have an Oklahoma Child Custody Agreement?

Oklahoma child custody agreementA Tulsa, Oklahoma child custody agreement usually does not anticipate many of the unexpected events that happen during the course of one’s life.

Often times, people get new jobs, fall in love, or must care for a sick relative far away from home.

If you, for any reason, want to move out of the state and you have primary custody of your children, you can do so.

However, there are a few legalities you should be aware of before moving more than 75 miles away from your primary residence.

Changing an Oklahoma Child Custody Agreement

You should always provide notice to your ex regarding any major changes in your life that will affect the children, even if it is not outlined in your Oklahoma child custody agreement.

Of course, deciding to move to another state is one of those changes.

Although informal notice is courteous, the law requires that your provide formal notice of your relocation, which must include the following:

1. the intended new address, including the specific address, if known;
2. the new mailing address, if not the same;
3. the home telephone number, if known;
4. the date of the intended move or proposed relocation;
5. a brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child, if applicable; and
6. a proposal for a revised visitation schedule with the children

You must provide this notice within 60 days of your move.

If you move without providing timely notice, the court can order you to return the children.

Note, that it is also illegal to conceal your children from your spouse.

So, moving with no notice may subject you to criminal liability – regardless of the provisions of your Oklahoma child custody agreement.

Going to Court

If you provide timely notice of the move, your ex may object to it within 30 days of receiving notice.

The court will hold a hearing to determine:

1) if you are moving simply to interfere with your ex’s visitation rights and

2) if the move is in the best interest of the children.

This means that the court will consider the child’s community ties, schooling and support system at his current home. The court will also consider the impact the move will have on the child’s relationship with the non-custodial spouse.

Consider the following scenarios:

A) Mary is the primary custodial parent of twins Josh and Edward, who are in the fifth grade.

Although they currently live in New York, she has gotten a new job in Washington D.C. that pays twice the amount of her current position. She understandably wants to move to D.C. to take the job, and wants to take her children with her at the end of the school year.

Here, the court will likely find that Mary has a legitimate reason for moving the children. Josh and Edward will be transitioning to middle school in the fall, and they also have school-aged family members in the D.C. area.

The court will likely find that the children will not be harmed by the move.

Also, the court will consider the fact that it is a relatively cheap and easy trip from New York to D.C., which may not interfere with the dad’s visitation time.

The court may, however, order that Mary pay for the cost of travel or make other arrangements for the children to visit with their dad.

B) Same facts as above, except Mary wants to move to California for a job and take the kids with her.

Here, the court will likely look more critically upon the move because it will significantly interfere with dad’s visitation. If the court is willing to adjust dad’s visitation schedule to include, for example, whole summers and winter breaks, Mary be able to move with the children.

But, if dad objects on the grounds he cannot afford costly plane tickets between California and New York twice a year for the two boys, the court may order that Mary help pay the cost of travel. Alternately, the court may not allow the move at all.

C) Same facts as A, except Mary wants to move to Washington D.C. to do the exact same job she’s doing now with no significant benefit to her or the children.

Their dad objects on the grounds that Mary wants to move because she does not approve of his new girlfriend, who has been spending increasingly more time with Josh and Edward.

If the court believes dad’s version, it may not allow the move because it is just an attempt to interfere with the dad’s parenting time.

Additional Considerations

Unless modified by the court, your divorce decree or Oklahoma child custody agreement will remain in effect in any state you move to.

However, you should domesticate the order for it to be enforceable in your new state.

Free Consultation: Tulsa Child Custody Attorney

Life happens, even after the court has entered an order in your Oklahoma child custody matter.

For a free consultation with a Tulsa child custody attorney, call the Divorce of Tulsa Law Office today at 918-924-5526.