Our Portland Custody Attorney Explains Child Relocation in Oregon

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Oregon custody laws regarding relocation have changed dramatically. Recent state court rulings do not automatically allow in-state, out-of-state or international relocation “move-aways”. This means that if you are divorced, or unmarried with a child custody order, neither parent should assume that he or she may move over 60 miles from their current residence without agreement between the parents or an order of court. The court will decide contested relocation cases with the legal standard of “best interests of the child,” and not the best interests of the parent wishing to move. Portland custody lawyer Ronald Allen Johnston has successfully represented mothers and fathers on both sides of the issue, and he understands how to frame the case to offer the evidence at trial to obtain the best result allowed under law.

Relocation is Not Automatic for Parents

When a person is a custodial parent, or has substantial parenting time with a child, he or she cannot simply pick up and move away. Oregon divorce courts protect children from moving away from their other parent, as our public policy favors frequent and continuing contact between both parents and children. If a parent seeks to move more than 60 miles from his or her current location, the law requires the parent notify the other as to the move. If the other parent does not agree to change the custody order and parenting time plan, the other parent may object. Often, a parent who objects to the other’s proposed move will ask for a modification of custody. A parent who shares joint child custody may change his or her mind and petition the court for sole custody in the wake of a proposed move.

Parents must note that anyone who moves away with a child without a court order may face criminal prosecution. Always seek legal advice before making plans to move with a child.

Job Opportunities and Remarriage as Reasons for Relocation

After parents divorce or unmarried couples split up, many will eventually marry new partners. A common reason for wanting to relocate with a child is a new job opportunity for either oneself or the new spouse. Even if a new job opportunity would benefit the parent, it does not necessary translate to a benefit for the child. Sometimes, a job opportunity will be sufficient to justify relocation if the other parent is not very involved in the child’s life and the new job will provide a higher standard of living or better educational opportunities for the child.

Whether a parent or stepparent’s new job opportunity is in the “best interest of the child,” is a very gray area up to the discretion of the court. Often in contested relocation cases, a child custody evaluation by a third-party professional is necessary.

A common mistake is for parents seeking relocation is to wait until the last minute to petition the court for relocation or to begin the case without representation by a qualified Portland family lawyer. Contested relocation cases can be complicated; there is a lot at stake. Portland family lawyer Ronald Allen Johnston has successfully handled many “move-away” family law matters on both sides of the issue. Timely action is imperative on this type of case, and so do not delay in contacting our firm to schedule a consultation immediately.

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