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Rights of Non-Custodial Parents

divorced and moving

Our society has become increasingly mobile, but this can create complications under certain circumstances. What was once a simple move to be closer to family, go to school, or take advantage of a job opportunity can turn into a tense custody dispute when parents are divorced.

If you are divorced and have minor children in Alabama, you will have to take some additional steps before relocating. This is because the state has a statute that deals with parental relocation, giving non-custodial parents a specific set of rights.

Alabama’s Relocation Act

Passed in 2003, Alabama’s Relocation Act applies to all minor children relocations for parents that have custody agreements through the Alabama family court system. The act is extensive and tells each parent what they need to do if they wish to move as well as their rights if they want to contest the move of the other parent.

Moves of 60 Miles or More

If a parent, whether one with primary custody or visitation rights, moves 60 miles away or out of state, they will need to provide proper notice to the other parent according to this law. Of note, a parent doesn’t necessarily need to move 60 miles away for the law to come into effect. If already living near the state line, a short move to a city or town in another state could trigger the requirements of the Alabama Relocation Act.

The parent that is moving is required to give 45 days of advanced written notice via certified mail to the other parent. If this isn’t possible, an explanation to the court may be necessary. In the notice, the parent that is moving must provide some important details. These include:

  • The date of the anticipated move
  • The reasons for the move
  • The new street and mailing address as well as a phone number
  • The name, address, and phone number of the child’s new school
  • Suggested changes to the custody or visitation schedule
  • Notice that the non-relocating parent has 30 days from receipt of the notice to file an objection

Rights of the Non-Custodial Parent

As the non-custodial parent, you certainly have the right to move for a good reason, but the other parent may object if this is going to cause them inconvenience or concern about their children. In most cases, the custodial parent requests a move, and this is something that brings an objection from the other parent.

If you do decide to file an objection, the court could order that the relocation not take place until the parties attend a hearing. This is where a judge can hear both sides, review any evidence, and determine whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child.

The best interest standard is what the Alabama courts use in these cases. This is influenced by many factors including the child’s age and their relationship with the non-custodial parent. The court is more likely to conclude that a child who is in junior high or high school will be less disrupted by a move than a younger child.

Presumptions of Alabama Courts

The new law gives advantages to non-custodial parents who wish to object to the move of a custodial parent. The law presumes that a move is NOT in the best interests of the child, and it will be up to the other side to prove otherwise. The only exception is when there are prior findings of child abuse or domestic violence.

We already mentioned the age of children, but the courts take many other factors into consideration when they make these determinations. Among them are the maturity level of the children, the quality of schools in a new location compared to the old, job opportunities of a parent that could benefit the children, any special health needs of children, and the effect of proposed changes to the visitation schedule.

Speak with a Qualified Alabama Family Law Attorney

Moves can offer opportunities but are also a source of tension among divorced parents. Whether you are the parent who wishes to move or a non-custodial parent worried about their rights, the experienced Alabama family law attorneys at Smith & McGhee, PC, can review your situation and explain your options.

Contact our Dothan, Alabama office now at 334-702-1744 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.