Parental Rights: Navigating Relocation After Divorce in Indiana

Parental Rights: Navigating Relocation After Divorce in Indiana

Whether you are the parent wishing to relocate or your child’s other parent wishes to do so, relocation after divorce in Indiana can be complicated. Once a child custody order has been issued, relocation of any party with custody, parenting time, or grandparent visitation rights, or seeking such rights, requires notice to all interested parties and if any party objects, the approval of the court. This blog discusses each parties rights when a parent wishes to relocate and has, or is seeking, custody or parenting time with the child.  

A parent wishing to relocate after a custody order has been entered, must provide a notice of intent to relocate1 to the clerk of the court issuing the custody order, and serve each interested party with such notice. Notice requirements include2: “(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. (F) A statement that a nonrelocating parent must file a response regarding the relocation of the child with the court not later than twenty (20) days after service of the notice…” The notice must be filed at least 30 days before the intended move, or 14 days after the party becomes aware of the move, whichever is sooner.  

There are some exceptions to the notice requirement under I.C. 31-17-2-2.1; (b) A relocating individual is not required to file a notice of intent to move …. if: (1) the relocation has been addressed by a prior court order, including a court order relieving the relocating individual of the requirement to file a notice; or (2) the relocation will: (A) result in a decrease in the distance between the relocating individual's residence and the nonrelocating individual's residence; or (B) result in an increase of not more than twenty (20) miles in the distance between the relocating individual's residence and the nonrelocating individual's residence; and allow the child to remain enrolled in the child's current school. 

A parent receiving a notice of intent to move must file a response with the court within 20 days of receiving the notice. The response must include a statement that the non-relocating parent does not object to the relocation of the child and does not request a hearing to modify custody, parenting time, child support, or grandparent visitation or a statement that the parent objects to the relocation, a motion to modify custody, parenting time, child support, and/or grandparent visitation as a result of the relocation, a statement as to whether the parties have participated in mediation in order to resolve the issue of relocation and a request for a hearing3 

A hearing under the relocation statute is a full evidentiary hearing which will allow the court to determine whether to prevent the relocation of the child and to modify custody, parenting time, support, and grandparent visitation if necessary. At the hearing, the parent wishing to relocate has the burden of proving that the proposed relocation is for a legitimate reason and being made in good faith. If the relocating parent can prove this, the burden then shifts to the non-relocating parent to prove that the relocation is not in the child’s best interests.  

When determining whether a parent may relocate with a child, the court will consider the following factors4: (1) The distance involved in the proposed change of residence. (2) The hardship and expense involved for the nonrelocating individual to exercise parenting time or grandparent visitation. (3) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating individual and the child through suitable parenting time and grandparent visitation arrangements, including consideration of the financial circumstances of the parties. (4) Whether there is an established pattern of conduct by the relocating individual, including actions by the relocating individual to either promote or thwart a nonrelocating individual's contact with the child. (5) The reasons provided by the: (A) relocating individual for seeking relocation; and (B) nonrelocating parent for opposing the relocation of the child. (6) Other factors affecting the best interest of the child.” 

Proving that a relocation is or is not for a legitimate reason or that the relocating parent is or is not acting in good faith may be difficult, depending on the reasons given for the move. If that can be proven, convincing the court that the relocation is, or is not, in the best interests of your child can be even more complex. If you or your child’s other parent is considering relocating with your child, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you navigate the relocation statutes and ensure that a legitimate move can be made or a move that is not legitimate cannot.  

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. 

  1. (I.C. 31-17-2.2-1)
  2. (I.C. 31-17-2.2-3)
  3. (I.C. 31-17-2.2-5)
  4. (I.C. 31-17-2.2-1(c)

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