This is the next post in a series of articles discussing child relocation requests based on a parent’s need to seek employment outside of Arkansas. Our previous post discussed how one parent may oppose their co-parent’s expedited request to move out of state. To defend against such a request, the opposing party must demonstrate it is not in the child’s best interest to move. Focusing on the requesting parent’s uncertain plans, instability for the child, or other factors that may have potential negative impacts on the child may be important when challenging a move-away request. The earlier posts in this series have concentrated on a parent’s desire to move for immediate reemployment reasons, such as to accept a job offer on short notice. In this article, I will discuss non-expedited relocation requests based on less urgent employment reasons. If you need assistance with a relocation matter, contact our office today to speak to an attorney.
Generally speaking, when parents share custody of a child in Arkansas, a parent wishing to move outside of the state must seek and obtain the approval of the Court before doing so. This is true regardless of the motivation behind the request. When a parent is moving for reasons related to employment, as with other justifications, the Court will evaluate whether the move is in the child’s best interest. Relocation requests should include a detailed relocation plan, including as much information about the move and the potential impact on the child as possible. As we have discussed previously, there are times when unemployment or other financial factors create an urgent need to leave an area to accept a job in order to support one’s family. Seeking an expedited, temporary order, from the Court can leave one with little time to gather the relevant relocation details. When the request is not urgent, the requesting parent can benefit from the additional time to prepare a fully developed relocation plan, including complete details about the job offer, salary, insurance, and any other benefits that justify the parent’s decision. The more thoughtful and specific information that one can submit to the Court in support of their request, the better.
Consider the following example. A Little Rock father is terminated from his job at a local factory. He is the primary breadwinner for his family and equally shares custody of his daughter. There are few manufacturing jobs available and he is forced to seek employment outside of the state to find competitive compensation. He has been considering moving to Ohio for months because his parents live there. While visiting, he applies for several open jobs and receives two offers, identifies an apartment close to his family, and meets with the admissions director at the local school, where he attended growing up. This information helps comprise a detailed relocation plan that he submits to the Court along with his Motion Requesting Relocation. He also includes a realistic visitation schedule, consisting of regular Facetime and Skype calls, and weekend, holiday and summer travel dates. While the child’s mother may challenge his request, presenting a fully-formed relocation plan to the Judge will increase his likelihood of success. These matters are highly fact-specific and how a Court will rule in any given matter will depend upon the facts of each case.
Deciding to move with a child is rarely an easy decision. When one has no choice but to move for employment reasons, the prospect can seem especially daunting. An experienced attorney can assist you when the request leads to a custody battle. If you need help with a relocation issue, our office is ready to assist you. In addition to Little Rock, we serve clients in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.