Are there child relocation laws in Connecticut?

Given the mobile nature of the world today, it is not uncommon for people to pack up and move at a moment's notice for a variety of reasons, such as a new job or to simply be closer to family. However, if a proposed move also happens to involve a child that is subject to a Connecticut child custody order, the situation can quickly become quite complex.

For instance, after a child-custody order is in place, a Connecticut parent can only move with a child as long as he or she first obtains the permission of the other parent, or, if permission is not granted, approval from the court. And, while it is typically best for parents to mutually agree upon all child-related issues, that is not always possible, which is why Connecticut courts will sometimes be required to resolve child relocation disputes.

Progression of Connecticut child relocation laws

Interestingly, prior to 2006, custodial parents in Connecticut typically didn't even have to ask permission from the court or the other parent before moving with a child - unless, of course, the child custody order required such obligations. During this time, a noncustodial parent's primary option to stop such a move was to file a motion for a change of custody and argue the relocation was not in the best interests of the child.

However, that all changed in Connecticut with the passage Public Act 06-168, which became effective on October 1, 2006. Since that date, if a child custody award is already in place and a parent wishes to move with the child in question, Connecticut statutory law requires a very particular analysis if the proposed move will have a significant impact on the current parenting plan.

Specifically, before a court will allow the child relocation in these circumstances, the relocating parent bears the burden of proving that (1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, (2) the relocation is reasonable given such purpose and (3) the move is in the best interests of the child.

Additionally, when determining whether to grant the relocation, Connecticut courts are required to consider:

  • The parents' reasons for opposing or seeking the proposed move
  • The extent to which the lives of the relocating parent and the child will be improved economically, educationally and emotionally due to the proposed relocation
  • The quality of the relationships between the child and each parent
  • The impact of the relocation on the quality and quantity of the child's future interaction with the non-relocating parent
  • The likelihood of maintaining the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements should the move be permitted

It is important to note, however, that these are not the only factors a court can consider when deciding child relocation disputes - meaning the process can become even more complicated. Accordingly, if you are currently involved in a child custody or relocation dispute it is typically best to consult with an experienced family law attorney. A skilled attorney can help explain your options and assist in ensuring your rights, and the rights of your child, are defended.