School's Almost Out! - Time to File Your Change of Domicile Request

The school year is rapidly coming to a close.  Soon you'll have a break from planning lunches and supervising kids doing their homework, and have a chance to plan fun vacations for the family.  But if you are divorced or divorcing, and planning to move before school reopens, this is also the perfect time to file your change of domicile request.  You may think, "But that isn't for another 5 months!  I have plenty of time, and I don't want to spend the summer in court."  That's totally understandable, and if the other parent agrees with the move, then my advice is to go directly to your lawyer and get an order drawn up.  Then go ahead and enjoy your summer.

But if the other parent does not agree, and you want to be able to move, then the time to act is NOW.  

A change of domicile requires you to show four things to the satisfaction of the court:

  1. That the move has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child, and the moving parent;
  2. How much the parents have utilized their parenting time, and that the move is not designed to frustrate the other parent's time with the child;
  3. That the proposed new parenting schedule will allow both parents to maintain a relationship with the child; and
  4. If the parent who opposes the change is motivated by a desire to gain a financial benefit relative to a support obligation.

The policy behind all of these requirements is to ensure that the child has as much stability in his or her life as possible (no random moves all over the place), and also to make sure that the child's relationship with both of his or her parents stays strong.

Some courts may order an evidentiary hearing (a mini trial) to determine the facts.  Other courts will first refer the issue to the Friend of the Court, to conduct an investigation and make recommendations.  If either party doesn't agree, then there will also be an evidentiary hearing before the court.

In short, moving with your kids after divorce isn't just a matter of making up your own mind - you must also convince the court that you are moving for all the right reasons, for your child.  Hearings can get adjourned, or continued, and there is no telling how long it will take to schedule an evidentiary hearing on a court's busy docket.  This can take months.  So, while you won't be spending your summer in court, you will have started the process and will likely have an answer by August.  In short, be smart, and do it now.  You'll be so glad you did!

If you have further questions, feel free to email me and schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.