Wife and Husband Signing Divorce Documents

Relocating With Children After a Divorce  

Rieper Law P.C. Oct. 12, 2022

Whether you’re moving across town for a relationship or across the country to be closer to family, relocating is simply a fact of life for many people. But relocation after a divorce can be difficult, especially if you need to move after your child custody arrangement has already been settled. It’s important that you understand your legal options for child custody if you need to relocate, and it’s also important to understand your rights if you do not want the other parent to relocate.  

Learn about your rights as a parent and take the best steps forward for your family. I can help you chart your path forward during this time of change. As an experienced family law attorney, I am here for you no matter what your situation might be. At my firm, Rieper Law P.C., I proudly represent clients in Des Moines and in Polk County, Dallas County, Warren County, Madison County, and the nearby areas in Iowa. 

Relocating With Your Child in Iowa 

If both parents agree to the relocation, then the path forward can be simple. However, if one parent does not agree, then the matter may go to court.  

Keep in mind that if the relocation is to a home more than 150 miles away from the child’s existing residence and the parents don’t agree, the court may use the relocation as a reason to modify your current custody arrangement. Even if the relocation is less than 150 miles away from the child’s home, if both parents don’t agree to the move, the matter can go to court. The court case will require testimony, evidence, fact-finding, and lastly, an order either allowing or denying the children's relocation and adjusting the court-ordered child custody arrangement.  

An experienced child custody lawyer can help you through the process of applying to change the custody order. 

Factors the Court Will Consider 

To approve the relocation after the divorce and the change to the custody order, the court will consider several factors. First, and most importantly, they will consider the effect moving out of the state with the children (or out of the area) will have on each child and the child's relationship with the other parent. The child’s best interests are the court’s top priority. The court’s decision will factor in how to best preserve the relationship between the child and their parents.  

To approve the change to the custody order, the court will consider whether there’s been a major, life-changing event in the parent’s life. This could be a promotion that requires a relocation, a remarriage, or other significant life events.  

The court will also consider the parent’s past behavior. If one parent has interfered with the other parent’s visitation time in the past, that can affect the process. The court may require the parent who interfered to post a cash bond ensuring that they will not interfere again. 

Other factors that the court will consider may include: 

  • The parents’ abilities to communicate with each other about the child; 

  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes; 

  • The child’s wishes (depending on age);

  • The child’s emotional and physical needs; and 

  • All other relevant factors 

It’s also important to know that, while Iowa courts often consider and give weight to a child’s wishes when setting the initial custody arrangement, they put less emphasis on the child’s wishes in a child custody modification. 

To learn more about child custody modifications, speak with an experienced Iowa family law attorney

Visitation for the Noncustodial Parent 

How much time will you be allowed to spend with your child if you move away and you are not the custodial parent? That answer depends on many different factors that the court will consider. 

The noncustodial parent may apply for a modification of the custody and visitation orders if they need to relocate. For the modification to be approved, the parent must show that there has been a significant life change.  For visitation, changes in employment, earning capacity, income, resources, health, residence, or remarriage will all be considered. 

Take Legal Action Today 

Relocation after the divorce will require legal action if both parents don’t agree on visitation and custody terms. This process can become heated and legally complex. At my firm, Rieper Law P.C., I can help you through each step of this difficult process, and I am available to answer all of your questions.  

I prioritize direct communication with my clients; you won’t go through layers of call screening just to speak with me. I proudly represent clients in Des Moines, Iowa, and in Polk County, Dallas County, Warren County, Madison County, and the nearby areas. Contact my firm today for a one-on-one consultation.