Relocating With A Child

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab


About Relocating With A Child

If you want to move away with your kid(s), or if you want to stop the other parent from moving with your kid(s), you need to know what the law requires for both of you. Before a parent relocates with a child, there is a legal process that must be followed. This page provides information about relocation and can help parents understand the legal process. 

Relocation is defined as a change in the child’s principal place of residence for 60 days or longer. However, it is not considered relocation if the change is temporary.

The Relocation Statute applies when one parent (or another person with custody) intends to establish the principal residence of a child at any location outside the state of Louisiana. It also applies when moving the child’s primary residence within the state of Louisiana more than 75 miles from the domicile of the other parent (if there is no custody order in place) or more than 75 miles from the principal residence of the child (if there is a custody order in place).

What You Need To Know About Relocating With A Child

The principal place of residence includes: 

  1. The primary residence of the child that the court has ordered;

  2. The location where both parents, either in writing or verbally, have previously agreed that the child will live. For example, you might have decided together that you intended to keep the child in a specific residence in order to keep him/her in the same school.

  3. The location where the child has spent the majority of time during the last 6 months when there is no court order and no express agreement between the parties.

If you have a custody order that does any of the following, you have the right to propose moving your child: (1) names you the sole custodian, or (2) names you as the domiciliary parent in a joint custody arrangement, or (3) awards both parents shared equal physical custody. 

If there is no custody court order, but you share equal parental authority, you have the right to propose moving your child. 

Additionally, a natural tutor of a child born outside the marriage can also propose to move the child. Tutors are often appointed when a child's parents get divorced or when one parent dies. The tutor of a child can be parents, other relatives, or court-appointed caregivers – it ultimately depends on the events that have occurred.

The moving parent has to provide notice at least 60 days before the move is scheduled to occur. In the alternative, in rare circumstances, if the relocating parent did not and could not reasonably have known the required notice information in time to provide a 60-day notice, and if it's not reasonably possible to extend the time for relocation, notice can be provided no later than the 10th day after the date the relocating parent has all the required information.

The law generally requires that a parent who wishes to relocate with a child provide notice of the proposed relocation to all parties who have custody or visitation rights. If multiple people have equal physical custody of a child, then a parent must get either court authorization to relocate, have a contradictory hearing, or the express written consent of the other person. 

There may be certain situations where you do not need to send a notice. This includes: 

  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 seventy-five (75) 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 the relocation of a minor child, to be safe. 

If a relocating parent fails to provide notice to the other parent, the following things can happen:

  • The judge can consider the failure as a factor in deciding whether to allow relocation.
  • If the relocating parent has already taken the child away, the judge can use the failure as a basis to order the relocating parent to return the child immediately.
  • The judge can deem the failure sufficient cause to force the relocating parent to pay the non-relocating parent's legal expenses.

If the non-moving parent receives notice and doesn't agree to the move, that parent has to make an objection within 30 days of receiving the notice. The non-relocating parent has to write down the objection and send it to the relocating parent via registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or have it delivered by a commercial courier. However, a parent with equal physical custody doesn't have to make a written objection.

If the other parent wants to move away with your kids and you object, you absolutely must write and deliver your objection within 30 days of receiving notice. If you don't, the relocating parent can initiate a summary court proceeding (meaning, a quick hearing that the non-relocating parent won't participate in) and the judge will then allow the move.

If a non-relocating parent objects to the move, the relocating parent has to set up a "contradictory hearing," which is a kind of trial where the court considers testimony and evidence about whether the move is in the child's best interests and whether it should be allowed or blocked. At trial, the burden of proof is upon the relocating parent to show that the move is being made and that it serves the best interests of the child. The court will schedule a trial within 60 days.

When the non-relocating parent objects to a move, the relocating parent may not take the child away from the current principal residence until a judge has made a final decision. The only exception would be if the court agreed to a request from the relocating parent to issue an "interim" (temporary) order allowing the move before there's a final decision. If a judge gives a relocating parent a break by letting that parent move before the final disposition of the case, the order will be conditioned on the parent's promise not to disrupt the other parent's scheduled visitation time. The relocating parent also has to agree to return the child to the original principal location if the move is ultimately denied.

At trial, the judge will listen to testimony and consider evidence about whether the move is in the child's best interests. The court will consider these factors regardless of whether it's making an initial (first) custody decision or whether it's modifying a previous custody and visitation order.

If the court needs help or more information to determine the child's best interests, it can appoint an independent mental health expert to investigate and make a follow-up report.

When the trial is complete, the judge will apply the facts to the law and issue an order either allowing or denying the request to relocate the child.

Legal Process

About The Legal Process To Relocate With A Child

Louisiana law requires the moving parent to provide the other parent with timely and proper notice of your intent to relocate the child. The moving parent must notify the other parent about the proposed relocation in advance. A formal legal notice notifies the other parent and tells the court about your plan to 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.

Steps To Relocating With Your Child

It is helpful to discuss your needs and plans with the other parent. If you have permission from the child’s other parent, it can make the move easier. You will still need to provide the other parent with timely and proper notice.

You will need to provide the other parent with written notice of your intent to move, including sending it through registered and certified mail or through a registered courier. The notice must be provided 60 days prior to the move or, if circumstances cause the need for an unexpected move, within 10 days of the moving parent receiving all necessary information. This notice must also include a revised custody plan and information about visitation, if relevant. 

The non-moving parent has 30 days after receiving notice to object to the move.

The notice must include the following information: 

  • The moving parent's current mailing address;

  • The intended new residence, including the specific physical address, if known

  • The intended new mailing address, if it differs from the physical address

  • The home and cellular telephone numbers of the relocating parent, if known

  • The date of the proposed move;

  • A brief statement of the specific reasons for relocating the child;

  • A proposed new schedule of custody and visitation that accommodates the move;

  • A statement that the non-moving parent has the right to object and shall make any objection in writing by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, within 30 days of receipt of the relocating parent's notice, and;

  • A statement that the non-relocating parent should seek legal advice immediately.

What To Expect After Giving Notice

The legal process is not finished once you have given notice because you must wait to see if the other parent objects to your notice to relocate. There are two scenarios to expect based upon the type of custody arrangement you have with the other parent. 

  1. Parents have equal custody. 

If you and your former spouse have equal custody of your child, you must obtain either a court order that states you are allowed to move with your child OR “express written consent” from the other parent. 

  1. Parents do not have equal custody. 

The other situation is if you and your ex do not share equal custody, for example, you share joint custody and you are the domiciliary parent. If the other parent does not object to your move, you are allowed to proceed. If the other parent does object to the move, you must then file a Motion To Relocate The Child’s Residence. This motion must be filed within 30 days of receiving the other parent’s objection. 

What To Expect When The Other Parent Objects To The Move

In order to get approval to relocate the child (over the objection of the other parent), then the court must hold a contradictory hearing and must find that the proposed relocation is made in good faith and is in the best interest of the child. 

The parent wanting to relocate must set up the contradictory hearing by filing a Motion To Relocate The Child’s Residence. The hearing will be set within 60 days. A contradictory hearing is a kind of trial where the court considers testimony and evidence about whether the move is in the child's best interests and whether it should be allowed or denied. During the hearing, the relocating parent must show that the move is being made and that it serves the best interests of the child.

Relocation Dictionary

Relocation Dictionary

Relocation Relocation 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 relocate In 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 relocation A 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 child The "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 Relocate A 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 Relocate An 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.  

How and When to Make an Objection

A person who is entitled to object to a proposed relocation of the principal residence of a child shall make any objection within thirty (30) days after receipt of the notice.  The objection shall be made in writing by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or delivered by the commercial courier as defined in R.S. 13:3204(D), to the mailing address provided for the person proposing relocation in the notice of proposed relocation. 

Last Review and Update: Apr 19, 2023
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