One of the most difficult issues in society is when parents of children live apart, and the primary caregiver, usually the mother, wants to move far away with the children, thereby interfering with the other parent’s realistic ability to maintain frequent and meaningful contact with the children, tuck them into bed on a regular basis, and attend their little league games, band concerts, soccer tournaments, parent teacher conferences, and the like.
Sometimes the motivating factor is a desire for the parent who wants to relocate the children to marry someone who lives far away.
Sometimes it is an employment opportunity.
Sometimes it is just pure spite, a desire for a fresh start, a desire to get away from the person they may have once loved and had children with and do not love anymore, or some combination thereof.
Regardless, when two parents living apart love and treasure the same children, and one of them wants to move far away and take the children with them, it can be a difficult issue.
There was a time, many years ago, when moving the children out of state required a court order or permission of the other party.
Of course, a mother could move from northwest Missouri to Cape Girardeau and still not invoke that requirement. And, a move from the east side of State Line Road in Kansas City to the west side would.
In its wisdom, the legislature changed the law to require written notice, by certified mail, of any proposed relocation of the primary residence of a child to the other parent more than 60 days in advance of the proposed relocation, whereupon the other parent has 30 days to file a court action to prevent the relocation.
And, when such a court action is filed to prevent the relocation, the court holds a hearing to determine whether the relocation of the child will be permitted or not, and the parent seeking to relocate the child has the burden of showing that the proposed relocation is made in good faith and is in the best interests of the children.
Violation of this law and/or orders of the court in such a situation empowers the court to change a prior custody decree, and/or enforce its orders by way of contempt power to the disobedient parent.
More and more, the general proclivities of the courts in this state are to prevent a parent from moving a child far away from a parent who is good, and involved, and participates in a positive and meaningful way in the children’s lives.
But every case is different, and the issue of relocation of children provides fodder for some of the most emotional and gut-wrenching litigation there can be.
And so, my quote of the day: “Being a parent is dirty and scary and beautiful and hard and miraculous and exhausting and thankless and joyful and frustrating all at once. It’s everything.” – author Jill Smokler.
To this I will add my own pronouncement about parenthood: “It is an adventure not to be missed. The greatest in the world.”
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.