Parents have a fundamental right to the custody, management, and care of their children. But when parents have divorced or separated and one parent wants to relocate the child, the other parent's rights are impeded. This can be a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Oklahoma law has strict requirements about how child relocation must be handled in the courts.
What is Child Relocation in Oklahoma?
Relocation is the process of moving more than 75 miles away from where the child resides. Two Oklahoma statutes deal with this situation. The first statute says the Custodial Parent, i.e. the person who the child lives with, has a presumptive right to relocate. The law states:
"A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change his residence, subject to the power of the district court to restrain a removal which would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.” See 43 O.S. § 112.2A.
The second statute establishes a procedure that the Custodial Parent must take before relocating the child. The proposed relocation must be in good faith, or else the court has the power to prohibit the Custodial Parent from relocating with the child. See 433 O.S. § 112.3.
Notice of Child Relocation in Oklahoma
If you intend to move, whether you are the Custodial Parent or not, you must file a Notice of Relocation and provide it in writing to the other parent. The notice should be sent as soon as the person is aware that they will be moving, but in no event should notice be given later than 60 days before the intended move. The notice must contain specific information, like the intended new address, date of moved, and proposed revised visitation schedule.
Objection to Child Relocation in Oklahoma
The non-relocating person may file an Objection to the Relocation if they want to prevent the move. The court then will decide whether the relocating person may move with the child. This process involves a temporary hearing and then a final hearing, or even a trial.
Good Faith Reasons for a Move
There are many good faith reasons a person might move. They include a new job, a job transfer or promotion, better employment prospects, a remarriage, or a desire to live closer to family. If the parent meets the initial burden of showing that the move is in good faith, the burden of proof shifts to the parent who opposes the move. The person opposing the move must prove the move is not in the best interests of the child.
Best Interests of the Child in Oklahoma
What is in the best interests of a child in Oklahoma? There are many factors a court will consider, including but not limited to:
• The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the person proposing to relocate and with the non-relocating person, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life,
• The age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child,
• The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating person and the child through suitable visitation arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties,
• The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child,
• Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the person seeking the relocation, either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the non-relocating person,
• Whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial party seeking the relocation and the child, including but not limited to financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity,
• The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation, and any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.
These factors are found in 43 O.S. 112.3 J.
Child Relocation Attorney in Oklahoma
Most of the time, a person who has full custody is allowed to move with the child. A parent who objects to such a move must show the move is done to harm the child or cause parental alienation. To show that the relocating parent has bad faith, you need an attorney who understands Oklahoma custody law. Our lawyers will discuss the specifics of your relocation case and advise you about how you can protect your relationship with your child. Contact our law firm today or call 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) and one of our Oklahoma Family Lawyers will speak with you immediately. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library.