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Guide to Relocation with Your Child

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

Guide to the Relocation Process

Understanding Relocation

A parent or guardian's legal right to relocate a child's home is limited, even if there is not a court order of custody.  Depending on the situation, when a parent wishes to move the child's primary residence, the law may consider the move to be a "relocation". Generally, it is a relocation if the child will be moved:

  • to a home more than 75 miles away or
  • any home outside of the state of Louisiana. 

Not all parents have the legal authority to relocate a child.  Even if a person has the authority to move the child's home, relocation requires the parent to follow a specific process before the move, whether or not there is a court order of custody.  

Topics Covered in this Guide: 


 

Relocation in Louisiana: An Overview

 


 

Sending Notice of Intent to Relocate

When the relocation laws apply, the first step is always to send Notice of Intent to Relocate.


 

When Court Authorization to Relocate is Not Required

A person proposing relocation does not need Court authorization to relocate if:

  • they get the express written consent of the person sharing equal physical custody under a court order; or 
  • the person entitled to notice does not file a timely objection to relocation. The person has to file the objection within 30 days from the day they receive the notice.

 

When Court Authorization to Relocate is Required

A person proposing relocation must get court authorization to relocate if:

  • the person entitled to notice does timely files an objection to the relocation; or
  • the person sharing equal physical custody under a court order does not give their express written consent to the relocation.

 

Next Steps

After the Notice of Intent to Relocate, the next steps depend on the circumstances.

 

Person With Equal Physical Custody Under a Court Order

The person who receives the notice has an opportunity to let the person proposing relocation know whether they agree or disagree. If they agree to the proposed move, they can give their express written consent. In these situations, silence or a lack of response is not good enough to assume agreement. Verbal agreement is not enough, either. The person who receives the notice can also formally object to the relocation, if they disagree. 

  • A person with equal physical custody of a child under a court decree is not required to formally object to the notice of intent to relocate. The rights of persons with equal physical custody are governed by La. R.S. 9:355.4(B). Under La. R.S. 9:355.4(B), "the person proposing relocation shall notify the other of a proposed relocation of the principal residence of the child as required by R.S. 9:355.5, and before relocation shall obtain either court authorization to relocate, after a contradictory hearing, or the express written consent of the other person."

If there is a person with equal physical custody under a court order, the person proposing relocation must either obtain express written consent or ask the Court for authorization to relocate.  Court authorization to relocate is required even if a person with equal physical custody rights under a court order does not file an objection to the relocation.  The only way for the person proposing relocation to avoid Court is to get the express written consent of the other person. 


 

Objection to Relocation is Timely Filed

If any person entitled to Notice of Intent to Relocate files an objection with the Court, the person proposing relocation must ask the Court for authorization to relocate. For more information, read about Objecting to a Notice of Intent to Relocate


 

No Objection is Timely Filed and No Court Order of Equal Physical Custody

If no objection is filed and there is no court order awarding another person equal physical custody, the person proposing relocation is permitted to relocate. 


 

Getting Court Authorization to Relocate - Rule to Show Cause

If the person proposing to relocate the child does not get express written consent from a person with equal physical custody under a court order OR if a person entitled to notice objects to the relocation, the person proposing to relocate the child must get permission from the court before relocating.

 

To get permission, the person proposing relocation must first file a Rule to Show Cause. Then, the Court will set a date for the hearing on the proposed relocation.

Notice of Intent: An Overview

Topics Covered in This Guide:


 

Notice of Intent to Relocate: An Overview

 


 

About Notice of Intent to Relocate

Before relocation, the person who wants to move the child may need to give formal notice. The "Notice of Intent to Relocate" tells the child's other parent, or a person with custody rights under a court order, of the proposed move. 

La. R.S. 9:355.5 outlines the required form of notice. The notice must be sent in the manner described by the law to be valid. The specific requirements described by La. R.S. 9:355.5 are explained in this article on "How to Prepare and Send a Notice of Intent to Relocate".

This formal notice may not be necessary for short-distance moves. If there is an agreement between all persons awarded custody by a court order, no notice is necessary. Last, there is an exception if certain protective orders are in place.


 

When Notice of Intent to Relocate is Required

All Moves Outside of the State of Louisiana

Notice of relocation is always required when there is intent to establish the primary home of a child at any location outside the state of Louisiana. This notice is required regardless of whether there is a court order of custody.

 

Moves Within Louisiana 

Notice of relocation is required when there is an intent to establish the primary home of a child at any location inside the state of Louisiana that is at a distance of more than seventy-five (75) miles from:

  • the domicile of the other parent, if there is no court order awarding custody.
  • the primary home of the child at the time that the most recent custody decree was rendered, if there is a court order awarding custody. 

  • the domicile of a person entitled to object to relocation, if no primary home has been designated by the court or the parties have equal physical custody. 

 

Note: If the distance to the proposed relocation address is close to the seventy-five mile threshold, it may be safer to send the notice of relocation. Some courts have measured 75 driving miles, based on established roadways between homes. Other courts may measure the 75 miles "as the crow flies," or in a straight line. When in doubt, it is safest to send a notice of relocation. 


 

When Notice of Intent to Relocate is Not Required

  1. There is an express written agreement between the parents or persons with custody rights under a current court order. 
  2. The proposed relocation location is both:
    • (A) inside the state of Louisiana and

    • (B) within sixty (60) miles from the child's current primary home. 

  3. There is a qualifying protective order in effect.

If you are unsure whether your case meets one of the exceptions above, you should talk to a lawyer. It is appropriate to use the legal process for relocation of a minor child, to be safe. 

 

 

 

 


 

What Must Be Included in a Notice of Intent to Relocate

The following information shall be included with the notice of intended relocation of the child:

(1)  The current mailing address of the person proposing relocation.

(2)  The intended new residence, including the specific physical address, if known.

(3)  The intended new mailing address, if not the same.

(4)  The home and cellular telephone numbers of the person proposing relocation, if known.

(5)  The date of the proposed relocation.

(6)  A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child.

(7)  A proposal for a revised schedule of physical custody or visitation with the child.

(8)  A statement that the person entitled to object shall make any objection to the proposed relocation in writing by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, within thirty days of receipt of the notice and should seek legal advice immediately.

A person required to give notice of a proposed relocation shall have a continuing duty to provide the information required as that information becomes known.


 

How to Send Notice of Intent to Relocate

The law requires mailing of proposed relocation address. The notice of intent to relocate must be sent to the last known address of the person entitled to receive the notice. 

U.S. Mail

A person proposing relocation can send the notice by registered or certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested. Registered or certified mail requires a special label that can be obtained from the U.S. Postal Service. When filling out the label, the sender must mark a box for "return receipt requested." Be sure to include a valid address for the return receipt

Commercial Courier

The law defines a "commercial courier" as "any foreign or domestic business entity having as its primary purpose the delivery of letters and parcels of any type, and which:

  • (1)  Acquires a signed receipt from the addressee, or the addressee's agent, of the letter or parcel upon completion of delivery.

  • (2)  Has no direct or indirect interest in the outcome of the matter to which the letter or parcel concerns."

Common commercial couriers include FedEx and UPS. It is important that the sender use the method of sending that requires a signed receipt from the person to whom the package is addressed. 


 

When to Mail the Notice of Intent to Relocate

The notice must be mailed at least 60 days before the date of the proposed relocation. 

  • There is an exception to the 60-day notice if:
    • (1) The person proposing relocation does not know and can not reasonably have known the information required to be included in the notice in time to provide that information at least 60 days in advance, and
    • (2) It is not reasonably possible to extend the time for relocation.  In that case, the notice must be sent no later than 10 days after the person mailing notice knows that information. 

 

Terms Used in this Guide

RelocationRelocation means a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of sixty days or more. A temporary absence from the principal residence is not a relocation. In short, relocation is a permanent change of the child's physical address -- moving.

Person entitled to notice of intent to relocateIn some cases, a legal parent or other person with court-ordered custody rights is entitled to notice before relocation of their minor child's home. The terms of the custody judgment and the type of relocation determine whether notice is required.

Person who can propose relocationA person who can propose relocation is a person with certain court-ordered custody rights, or, if there is no court order of custody, a parent with "equal parental authority."

Principal residence of a childThe "principal residence" means the primary home. That may not always be the place where the child lives most of the time. A custody order or express agreement can state the principal residence. Otherwise, the law determines the place of principal residence.

  • Court Order: The principal residence might be stated in an existing court custody order. If there is a court order that states the address of the child's home, that address is the child's principal residence.  
  • Express Agreement: What if there is no court order? If the parents have expressly agreed on an address where the child will live, that is the child's principal residence. An "express agreement" is usually proven by a written document. The written document does not need to be a formal document. It could be an email, text message, or other letter confirming the address is acceptable to the other parent. 
  • The principal place of residence if there is no court order or express agreement: What if there is no court order or express agreement? The child's principal place of residence is the location, if any, at which the child has spent the majority of time during the prior six months.

Notice of Intent to RelocateA Notice of Intent to Relocate is a formal letter that tells a child's other parent or a person with custody rights under a court order that the person sending the notice wishes to relocate a child's principal place of residence. For details, read "What Information Goes in a Notice of Intent to Relocate?"

Objection to Notice of Intent to RelocateAn objection is the word for formally expressing disagreement in a legal proceeding. In a relocation proceeding, Louisiana Revised Statute 9:355.7 provides the person receiving the notice a way to object to the proposed relocation.  Read more about "How and When to Make an Objection".

Last Review and Update: Nov 02, 2021
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