Child custody and relocation laws in Indiana do not always allow a parent with a custody or parenting time order to relocate their residence without first meeting certain requirements. If you, or your child’s other parent is considering a move, you should know what procedures need to be followed and how the law may affect custody and the ability to relocate with the child. This blog explores child custody and relocation laws in Indiana and what parents need to know.
Parties who have, or are seeking, child custody, parenting time, or grandparent visitation must comply with Indiana’s notice requirements statute1 and keep all others who have, or are seeking, rights with the child, informed of their current home address, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses. If intending to change home addresses when the move will increase the distance between the parents houses by 20 miles or less, while allowing the child to remain in the same school, a parent need only provide the new address to all other parties in writing2. However, absent a court order that says otherwise, all other relocating parents must file with the court a notice of intent to move residence3.
A party must file and serve the notice on all other parties not later than 30 days before the date of the intended relocation or not more than 14 days after becoming aware of the relocation, whichever is sooner. Information requirements4 for the notice include “(A) The intended new residence, including the: (i) address; and (ii) mailing address of the relocating individual if the mailing address is different than the address under item (i). (B) All telephone numbers for the relocating individual. (C) The date that the relocating individual intends to move. (D) A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child. (E) A statement that the relocating individual either does or does not believe that a revision of parenting time or grandparent visitation is necessary…”
The notice must also provide several other statements informing the non-relocating party of certain rights they may have regarding the relocation, including the right to file a petition requesting that the relocation of the child be prevented or for modification of custody and parenting time due to the proposed move5. Whether there is an objection to the child’s relocation or not, a response to the request for relocation6 must be filed within 20 days of receiving the notice. If there is no objection, the response must include a statement that there is no objection to the relocation and modification of custody, parenting time, or grandparent visitation is not requested OR a statement that there is no objection to the relocation, along with a petition to modify custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation, or support as a result of the relocation, and a request for a hearing on the matter.
When a parent wishes to prevent relocation of the child, his or her response to a request for relocation must include a statement that the party objects to the relocation, a motion requesting a temporary or permanent order preventing the child’s relocation, a motion to modify custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation, or support as a result of the relocation, and a request for a hearing7. Any petition for modification as a result of relocation will be set for hearing so that the court may determine if relocation of the child will be allowed and if custody, parenting time, grandparent visitation, or support should be modified. The party wishing to relocate has the burden of proving that the move is for a legitimate reason and made in good faith. Indiana courts have frequently recognized employment, remarriage, and living closer to family, among others, as legitimate, good faith, reasons to relocate. If a party can prove a legitimate and good faith reason to move, the other party then has the burden of proving that the move is not in the child’s best interests.
Factors considered when determining the best interests of a child as it pertains to relocation include8 the distance involved between the parent’s homes after the move, the hardship and expense for the non-relocating individual to exercise parenting time or grandparent visitation, the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the child and his or her other parent or grandparent, and other factors affecting the best interests of the child. Other factors includes those considered in an initial custody determination (Lynn v. Freeman, 157 N.E.3d 17 (Ind. App. 2020)).
As you can see, relocation when a child custody order is involved can require much more time and hard work than the actual move. If you are considering relocating, or your child’s other parent is, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can do the heavy lifting for you. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.