THE PROCESS FOR CHILD RELOCATION IN MISSOURI
January 25th, 2021
THE PROCESS FOR CHILD RELOCATION IN MISSOURI:
What You Need to Know about How and Whether you can Move when your Child is Subject to a Shared Custody Order
BY: Austin E. Williamson and Heather Rooney McBride
International author, Peter Hoeg, once said that “traveling tends to magnify all human emotions;” and while Hoeg was not writing about relocation, the quote is nonetheless applicable. We are a transient society, and there are many reasons that a family may relocate from one home, one city, or one state to another; however, these relocations are significantly complicated when a divorced parent desires to relocate with a child and the other parent has designated parenting time. Unlike some states, relocation with a child in Missouri, even should you have “sole” custody of a child, is not necessarily a right; rather, it requires acquiescence from the other parent and/or court intervention.
Pursuant to Revised Missouri Statute Section 452.375, a “relocation” means a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of ninety days or more; this does not, however, include a temporary absence from the principal residence. RSMo § 452.375. Any relocation, however, no matter how short or long of a distance, and regardless of whether it is inside our outside of the State of Missouri, is subject to statutory relocation requirements as discussed below.
When a parent wishes to relocate with a child, and he or she shares child custody or visitation with the other parent, the relocating parent must give notice of the proposed move by certified mail to the other parent at least sixty (60) days before the intended relocation effective date. This notice is strictly regulated by statute; specifically, Missouri law requires that this notice include particular information, as follows:
(1) The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city;
(2) The home telephone number of the new residence, if known;
(3) The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;
(4) A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child, if applicable; and
(5) A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child, if applicable.
RSMo § 452.377
Once the non-relocating parent receives this notification, the non-relocating parent has thirty (30) days to file an objection with the court concerning the relocation. If the non-relocating parent fails to file an objection within thirty (30) days, then his or her right to object will be waived, and the relocating parent will be allowed to relocate following the expiration of the 60-day period, even without a Court order.
If, however, a timely objection is filed by the non-relocating party, then the Court will have to determine whether a relocation of the minor child is in the minor child’s best interests. If the Court determines that a relocation is not in the minor child’s best interests, then the party requesting relocation will not be allowed to relocate the minor child’s residence.
Importantly, a failure to provide notice of a proposed relocation of a child may have significant consequences; specifically, the Court may consider such a failure as:
(1) A factor in determining whether custody and visitation should be modified;
(2) A basis for ordering the return of the child if the relocation occurs without notice; and
(3) Sufficient cause to order the party seeking to relocate the child to pay reasonable expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation.
RSMo § 452.377
A relocating parent’s failure to provide appropriate notice to the non-relocating parent before a relocation may lead to the Court ordering sanctions against the relocating parent, including an order for a modification of custody. It is, therefore, very important to follow the relocation guidelines carefully.
As is the case with all domestic matters, it is important that you understand your rights and obligations when it comes to relocation and how that may affect custody of your child. If you would like to speak with an attorney about a relocation or your options regarding any domestic matter, please contact Rooney McBride & Smith, LLC at 417-708-9681 to schedule a free consultation.