This is the next post in a series of articles discussing child relocation requests when a parent seeks to move a child outside of Arkansas to accept new employment. Our previous article focused on the importance of presenting a detailed relocation plan to the court in support of such a request. Stability for the child and whether the move is in the child’s best interest will be of particular importance when a Court is asked to expedite a relocation request. The more specific information about the move that can be presented to the Court, such as living arrangements, support systems, etc., the more likely a request will be approved. This article will focus on the ability of a Little Rock parent to challenge their co-parent’s expedited, employment-related, move-away request. If you need assistance with a child custody issue, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
When one’s co-parent seeks permission to move a child outside of Arkansas for a new job, they may not know how best to respond. Defending against such a request is possible on various grounds. As mentioned above, the Court will review whether the move will be in the child’s best interest. A challenging parent may oppose the request by providing objective reasons why the relocation would not be beneficial. Such evidence may include facts comparing the child’s current school to the proposed new district, current arrangements for care and support versus those in the relocation plan, and more. Uncertainty about the co-parent’s job prospects or other material aspects of the relocation plan may also be relevant. To help maintain stability for the child, the Court is often reluctant to grant a temporary relocation order on the basis of an undeveloped plan. The Court will also be mindful of preserving the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent. If regular visitation cannot be maintained, one may argue that limited access to the child could be harmful. This is particularly true if the requesting parent has a history of non-compliance with visitation orders, which may indicate a risk of future non-compliance for long-distance visitation arrangements.
This concept is perhaps best explained by an example. Suppose a mother loses her job as a restaurant manager related to government-ordered closures and restrictions. She proposes a move to Florida, where she perceives that there are more opportunities for finding similar work. She has applied for several positions, but at the time of her preliminary hearing, she has not received any formal job offers. Her proposed relocation plan does not identify specific information about living arrangements, schools, or financial support after the move. The child’s father may argue that the child would be better served by remaining with him, at least until such time as she can present more clear plans. He could also demonstrate that his child will benefit from the stability of remaining in his home, current school, and near friends and family. Furthermore, he may argue that his parent-child relationship would be significantly harmed by the limited visitation opportunities if the Florida move is permitted. It is important to understand that how the Court will rule in any given case will be fact-specific. An experienced lawyer can review your case and help you navigate the process.
Our office understands that relocation request cases are emotionally charged and often contentious. We have experience handling child custody issues of all kinds, including challenging move-away requests. If you need assistance with a child relocation issue, contact us today to speak with an attorney. In addition to Little Rock, we also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.