Child in carThis is my next post in my series which is meant to provide a basic understanding of Arkansas child custody laws. My previous article discussed whether an unmarried parent can move out of state. In that article, we gave a brief overview of Arkansas’ custody laws on the matter. In this post, we will discuss the process of relocating a child outside of the state. This process can be complicated, and it is strongly suggested that you retain an experienced lawyer to assist you. If you have any questions, contact our Little Rock office to speak with an attorney today.

When families split up either due to divorce or separation, it is very common for one of the parties to want to start a new life. Occasionally that includes a move out of state. While both parents have the right to travel and pursue new employment opportunities, the Arkansas Court wants to be sure any permanent move will be in the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child is the most important thing in any custody proceeding. In relocation cases, the Judge will look at the impact a permanent move may have on the child, as well as the parents’ reason for moving. Therefore, it is important to know that if you are sharing custody of a child with someone else, you cannot simply move out of state and bring the child with you. You must have permission.

If there is a relocation in your future and you plan to bring your child, the first thing you will need to do is file a motion with the Court asking for permission to move. In this motion you will explain all of the reasons a move will benefit the child. Examples of this could be: they will attend better schools, they will be closer to family, or the standard of living will improve due to increased income from your new job. You will also need to inform the Court as to whether you plan to move immediately, or if you are going to be moving sometime in the near-distant future. If the move is immediate, say you are starting your new job in a week, you can request to move and bring the child temporarily. All of this must be included in the motion.

Once the motion is submitted, there are three things that a Court can do. First, they can deny the motion outright, meaning you will not be able to move the child out of state. Second, they can set a trial date in order to evaluate all of the evidence and explore both parents’ arguments to determine whether or not the move will be in the child’s best interest. Or third, the Judge will allow for you to temporarily move out of state with the child and set a trial date to determine the permanency of the relocation. Typically, this third outcome would only occur if the move needed to happen immediately.

It is important not to take matters into your own hands. Removing the child from Arkansas without permission can often result in the Court ordering the child be returned to our state, and your custody and time with the child may be reduced. If you are planning to move and have shared custody of a child, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney. Contact our office today to speak with a Little Rock lawyer. We understand that custody disputes are stressful for everyone involved. We pride ourselves on providing quality service and we are ready to assist you. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of Arkansas.