After a divorce, your most pressing concern will, no doubt, be preserving your relationship with your children. Most times, the courts prioritize maintaining both parental relationships in a divorce. That usually means that the parents will share custody. However, anything from a pressing work schedule to lack of interest can result in an uneven allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.
If your ex has more parental authority than you, you may feel as though your relationship with your children is on shaky ground. It is common to worry about whether your ex will suddenly cut you off from visitation or worse, relocate somewhere far away so that you won't be able to see your kids frequently.
Thankfully, Connecticut family courts frown on parents who intentionally alienate the children from their other parent. There are also rules in place if one parent wants to take the children out of state or far enough away to make visitation difficult.
Your parenting plan has limitations on where you (or the kids) can move
If you go over the initial custody order or parenting plan issued in your divorce, you will find that the court has likely already addressed the potential of one parent moving far away from the other.
Specifically, the courts tend to place a limit on relocations either in number of miles or occasionally by county, school district or state. In other words, your ex can't just pack up and leave, effectively cutting you off from the children. In order to legally relocate, your ex will need to file a request with the court.
Will the courts allow a relocation?
Provided that your ex wants to leave Connecticut or move far enough away to make visitation difficult, they will need to provide the courts with ample forewarning of that decision. The courts will then notify you and will hold a formal hearing to determine whether they approved the request to move.
Effectively, the hearing becomes a child custody modification hearing. The courts will determine if letting the children leave is in their best interests. Sometimes, one parent choosing to leave could mean that they effectively give up primary custody. The other parent will remain in the same area and, therefore, can provide more stability in terms of schooling and social support.
In the event that the courts do permit the move, you will still have options as a parent. You will likely have a custody order allowing you visitation or parenting time with your children.
Either you or they may have to travel to actually have the parenting time, but it is likely still a possibility. Talking through your concerns about your children relocating with an attorney can help you better understand your rights and your options if that is what eventually happens for your family.