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Missouri Child Custody Laws On Moving Out Of State

Are you relocating outside of Missouri and wish to take your child with you? If there is a custody order in place, you’ll need to consider Missouri laws on child relocation. You can’t just pick up and leave with your child – you’ll have to follow a legal process first. This applies whether you share joint custody with the other parent, or you are the sole custodial parent with visitation granted to the other parent.

Missouri is a state with strict child relocation laws. While other states give you a geographic allowance on how far you can freely move your child – say, within 50 or 100 miles of your original home – in Missouri, you cannot relocate the child anywhere at all without legal permission. You can’t move out of state, to a different part of the city, or even next door if you don’t have the court’s permission.

To get this permission, you must send a valid written notice to the other parent at least 60 days before your planned date of moving. Your notice must state your new address (or at least the city), your new phone number, the date of relocation, the exact reason for your relocation, and a short statement on how it will affect your child. The notice should also include your proposed revisions to the existing custody or visitation order, given that the other parent’s custody or visitation arrangements will be affected by the move. Send this letter by certified mail, with return receipt requested.

The other parent will then have 30 days to either give their consent, object to the relocation, or do nothing. If they give their consent or do nothing, the court will most likely grant the official permission for you to relocate with your child. But if the other parent objects, the request will proceed to trial so a judge can decide.

During a relocation trial, the burden of proof will be on you, the relocating parent. You will need to demonstrate to the judge that your moving is not an attempt to disrupt your ex-spouse’s relationship with the child. It’s also important to show that the relocation will improve your child’s life, or at least will not be detrimental to their development.

What if you urgently need to relocate, such as for a job or a family emergency? You’ll want to consult a lawyer to help you obtain immediate permission. There have been cases where Missouri courts gave permission after only a week’s notice from the relocating parent.

It’s always wise to talk to a family law attorney when you have a child custody concern or a relocation plan you are not sure about. Your attorney can help you avoid missteps and conflicts under Missouri child custody laws.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.