Once an initial hearing has been held, regarding a parent’s motion to relocate the child, the parties will be referred to mediation and have a Guardian ad Litem appointed to represent the child’s best interests.
At any time between the initial hearing and the final hearing, the relocating parent can request a temporary order to allow the child to relocate if the court finds the relocation is in the child’s immediate best interest. This decision is subject to revision at the final hearing.
If either party disagrees with a commissioner’s decision regarding a relocation pending the final hearing, they may seek a de novo hearing within 10 days of the commissioner’s oral ruling. Once requested, the de novo will be held within 30 days before the judge.
At the final hearing, the court will consider the proposed relocation using the standard factors in custody and physical placement determinations. These include the wishes of the parents and child; relationship of child with parents and siblings; amount and quality time each parent has spent with the child in the past; child’s adjustment to home, school, religion, and community; age of the child, developmental and educational needs; mental or physical health of the party or child; the need for regularly occurring and meaningful periods of placement; cooperation and communication between parents; whether each parent can support the other’s relationship with the child; evidence of child abuse, criminal record, evidence of domestic abuse; drug or alcohol abuse.
The court will presume that the relocation plan should be approved if the objecting parent has not significantly exercised court-ordered physical placement. The court will also presume that the court should approve the relocation plan if the parent’s relocation is related to abuse of the child, there is a pattern or serious incident of interspousal battery or domestic abuse.
All relocation motions are decided in the best interest of the child. The moving parent has the burden of proof in a contested relocation, unless any of the above-mentioned presumptions apply.