New law will make it more difficult for custodial parents to move out of state, by Kristine J. Zajac

Legislation passed in the last session of the Minnesota Legislature has removed a longstanding presumption favoring the custodial parent in disputes regarding relocation of a dependent child out-of-state. While the solution places custodial and noncustodial parents on a more equal footing, it requires the court to determine what serves the best interests of the child. In short, it has become more difficult to relocate a child out of state, and courts have more latitude to determine whether relocations are allowed. The court will analyze the following eight factors. (1) the court must closely examine the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other people of influence in the child’s life. (2) the court must consider the child’s specific needs and circumstances: age, developmental stage; physical, educational and emotional development; and other “special needs”. (3) Considers the practicality and logistics of long-distance relationships, especially on financial terms. (4) The court must consider the child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child. (5) The court cannot grant relocation if the purpose of the relocation is to interfere with the noncustodial parent’s parenting time. (6) The court must consider whether relocating the child will enhance the quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child, including the financial, emotional, or economic benefits. (7) The court must examine each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation. Lastly, the court must examine the effect of domestic abuse on either the child or the custodial parent.