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Relocation in North Carolina: Ramirez-Barker v. Barker

What would happen if you would like to move with your child, and the move would affect the current child custody agreement? Of if the other parent wants to move out of state? It is important in either of these situations to speak to a qualified North Carolina custody attorney. At the Woodruff Family Law Group, we have successfully resolved many cases for parents who have sought to relocate with their children or parents who have opposed a move. We understand how emotionally charged relocation cases can be, which is why you can expect the utmost compassion from our entire team.

In Ramirez-Barker v. Barker, the trial court had granted sole and permanent custody of the child to the mother, with frequent and extended visitation privileges to the father, after the couple separated. Some time later, the mother wanted to move out-of-state with her minor child. Specifically, she wanted to move to California. The mother filed a motion to modify an existing custody order to allow the relocation to happen.

The Court heard the evidence, which included testimony from both parents and a psychologist, the court decided the best interest of the child would be served if the   mother was not to move. The “best interest of the child” is the standard, and this broad term allows a judge to consider any factor that would be relevant to parenting as well as the child’s growth and development.

The court set forth criteria that should be used when considering custody agreements for relocating parents. These criteria should be assessed when determining whether relocating would be in the best interests of the child:

  • Will the relocation improve the life of the child; and
  • The motives of the custodial parent who is requesting the move, such as whether the custodial parent will adhere to the visitation orders after he or she moves out of North Carolina and is no longer in the state’s jurisdiction; and
  • The integrity of the noncustodial parent in opposing the relocation; and
  • Will a realistic visitation schedule still be possible, which will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent? In cases in which parents share custody of the children, the matter can be even more complex. Often, the moving parent is put in the position of having to choose between staying in North Carolina with the child or moving to a new state.

Deciding to relocate can forever change the relationship a child has to one or both parents. At the Woodruff Family Law Group, our North Carolina child custody attorneys have years of experience handling child relocation cases. We understand how complicated and emotional these cases can be, but you can trust that we will explore every possible option for you. Rest assured that we are working to secure an arrangement that is in the best interest of your child. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 336-272-9122.

Furthermore, the court held that “a change in a custodial parent’s residence is not itself a substantial change in circumstances justifying a modification of a custody decree. The judge in the case went on to explain that it would be a rare case in which relocation would not adversely affect the minor child, indicating that a custodial parent who wants to relocate may have a heavy burden.