Perhaps you just received a transfer offer to another state from your employer with a significant pay raise and even more opportunities for advancement. Or maybe you and a business partner (or new boyfriend or girlfriend) want to leave the area for a change of pace. But if you are divorced, and you have joint custody of your child, what should you do? How will leaving Minnesota affect your child custody arrangements?

In Minnesota, the courts do not let a parent leave the state unless the other parent gives his or her permission. However, you might obtain a court order that permits the move. When a parent submits a request to move, the court will consider numerous factors before granting permission, such as:

•    Financial concerns;
•    Whether the moving parent is the primary caregiver;
•    The reason for relocating, especially if the purpose of the move is to hinder the child’s relationship with the other parent;
•    How the move will affect the child, including his or her age, medical needs, and education and special needs;
•    What the child wants, depending on his or her age;
•    The distance of the move;
•    Whether the move will enhance the quality of life for the parent and the child;
•    The child’s overall welfare and safety;
•    The status of the parent’s relationship with his or her son or daughter; and
•    Whether the parent will be able to continue that relationship out-of-state and under what circumstances.

The parent who wants to move must prove that his or her reasons are in the best interests of the child. Failing to adhere to these guidelines could justify an immediate order changing parental custody until the court schedules a hearing. All that said, if the parent is leaving due to domestic violence, then the burden of proof to prohibit the move falls on the opposing parent.

The parent who leaves will need to be willing to adjust the visitation schedule to accommodate the move as well as subsidize additional transportation costs. However, the judge will generally place a high priority on the child’s need for regular contact with both parents.