Parents who share custody in Missouri divide both responsibilities to and time with their children. Your parenting plan or custody order outlines the overall breakdown of your parenting time and authority and may even create a schedule that you follow.
Being able to see your children frequently is crucial to the maintenance of the relationship that you have with them. Unfortunately, your ex might decide that they want to leave Missouri to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Maybe they have started an online relationship with someone who lives in Texas, or perhaps they have family in Kentucky.
Can the other parent of your children unilaterally decide to leave the state with the kids?
Custody orders usually limit long-distance relocations
It is common for your parenting plan to include limitations on how far either parent can travel with the children or relocate while sharing custody. Often, parents agree to remain in the same city or school district. At the very least, a move out of the state will typically trigger family court oversight.
When the other parent wants to move somewhere far enough away that it would affect your access to the children, they need to provide you and the courts with advance notice of their move. You then have the opportunity to respond and challenge their request. If you do not agree, then you will go to court for a modification hearing.
A judge will listen to both of you as you explain why the move should or should not take place. Provided that you focus your arguments on the best interests of the children, such as highlighting the damage to your relationship with them, the removal from their network of friends and the presence of most of their family in Missouri, you can potentially convince a judge that the move would not be best for the children.
Those who have emails or text messages from the other parent threatening to cut the children off from them or move away to deny them access could help them respond to a relocation request in court. If a judge does allow your ex to leave with the kids, you will have to update your custody arrangements to allow for interstate shared custody.
Learning more about the rules that apply in move-away scenarios and custody modification requests will help those worried about preserving their relationship with their children.