When do I have to get permission to leave the state with my child?



You feel like you have a good opportunity to move out of MA and start fresh. But you have a child with someone you’re no longer in a relationship with, and you want to make sure you do it the right way. Here’s the info you need.

If a parent wants to move out of state with a child, the parent needs either permission from the other parent and/or an order of the court.

Even if you have verbal permission from the other parent, it’s generally better to put it in writing and file it with the court. This prevents the other parent from filing with the court after you leave and asking the judge to order you to return with the child.

If there’s no agreement, you have to file a complaint in court asking the court to allow you to move out of state with the child. This type of custody issue is referred to as “removal.”

The general prohibition on taking children out of state doesn’t apply to temporary trips or vacations. In fact, most divorce and custody agreements have provisions allowing parents to do that.

However, if you move out of state with a child without a court order, you run a serious risk of having a judge order you to return. This can put you in a difficult position. Did you quit your job, give up your housing, or make any other significant changes before you left? If so, you’re likely coming back to a messy situation.

If you want to move out of state with a child, your best first step is to contact a reliable family law attorney for an assessment of your circumstances. It’s important to determine how likely it is that a judge would allow you to leave before taking steps toward making a move.

In determining whether to allow a move out-of-state, the court aims to do what’s in the child’s best interest. It will examine a number of factors including where the child would move to, the effects of increased travel for parenting time, the involvement of each parent in the child’s life, education, the motive of the moving parent, employment opportunities, where other family members live, how the move may affect the child, social advantages, how the move may impact the child’s relationship with the parent remaining in MA, and other factors.

A quality family law lawyer can tell you what your chances are of prevailing on a removal issue, so you can determine whether it’s a good time to move and plan accordingly. The earlier you have this discussion and the more time you leave for planning and addressing the issue in court, the better.

If you have any removal or family law questions, feel free to contact us.