When parents share custody, they must agree on the decision to relocate with the children to another state. If one parent contests the move, the other parent can ask the Indiana courts to make a decision.
These are the basic guidelines for relocation after divorce under Indiana state law.
The need for notice
If a parent is planning a move with his or her children, he or she must usually provide official legal notice 30 days prior to the move. This requires a Notice of Intent to Relocate form that indicates:
- When the move will take place
- Where the children will live after the move
- Whether phone numbers will change
- Why the parent has made the decision to move
- A statement regarding whether the relocating parent believes parenting time should change
- A statement informing the non-relocating individual that they have 20 days to object to the relocation
The individual who disagrees with the move will receive service from the court with this notice. He or she can respond with dissent within 20 days. Often, this response accompanies a request for a change in parenting time or custody to further circumvent the intended move.
Factors in approving a move
When a parent contests the move, the court will schedule a hearing at which each parent can present his or her case. When the court does not receive a response to the relocation notice within 20 days, the parent who wants to move receives default legal permission to do so.
When a hearing takes place, the parent requesting relocation must prove that he or she is making this decision:
- In good faith
- In the child’s best interests and
- For a legitimate reason such as work opportunities or extended-family connections
The judge may also consider the child’s wishes if the child is at least 14.
If the requesting parent does not prove to the judge that the child’s quality of life will be significantly improved, the court is unlikely to grant permission to relocate out of Indiana. The law strives to maintain a relationship between the child and both parents whenever possible.