Q: I have primary residential responsibility for my children, and I want to move out of state with them, what do I need to do to move?
A: The relocation statute (NH RSA 461-A:12) requires that the relocating parent shall provide reasonable notice to the other parent of the move. While “reasonable notice” may vary depending on special factors present in your case, in most cases 60 days is presumed reasonable notice. This notice requirement applies in all parenting rights and responsibilities cases unless specifically addressed otherwise in the parties’ existing order or agreement. However, it does not apply when the relocation will move the parent and children closer to the other parent or within the same school district.
If the non-relocating parent objects, the court will hold a hearing on the matter at the request of either parent. Often, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the issues and make a recommendation to the court regarding the relocation.
In order for the relocating parent’s request to be approved, that parent must show that their relocation is for a legitimate purpose and that the proposed relocation is reasonable in light of that purpose. In other words, if the relocating parent is moving to be near her family that lives in Florida, the proposed move should be to Florida and not North Dakota. A legitimate purpose may be for a variety of different reasons, including economic opportunities such as employment or the ability to be self-supportive, to be close to a support network of friends and family, or for an educational opportunity for the parent or children.
If the relocating parent proves, by a preponderance of the evidence (more probable than not), that the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, then the burden shifts to the non-relocating parent who must show the court that the proposed relocating is not in the best interests of the children. Even if the relocating parent has a legitimate purpose, and is not moving for nefarious purposes such as interfering in the other parent’s relationship with the children, the court may find that it is not in the children’s best interests and deny to relocation.
· Each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the move;
· The quality of the relationships between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents;
· The impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the noncustodial parent;
· The degree to which the custodial parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally, and educationally by the move;
· The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child through suitable visitation arrangements;
· Any negative impact from continued or exacerbated hostility between the custodial and noncustodial parents; and
· The effect that the move may have on any extended family relations.
No single factor is presumed to be dispositive, and the court may consider additional factors as the case demands.