Massachusetts law favors encouraging children’s relationships with both parents when possible. In divorce or child custody cases, courts often maintain that children do best with meaningful involvement in their lives from both parents.

However, when one parent wishes to move out of state with their child, the process to do so can become complicated and contested. As the parent wishing to move, you may seek a better job opportunity, a home closer to family or more. However, as the other parent, you may bitterly contest the possibility of your child moving far away.

Requesting the relocation

Parents cannot simply pack up their child and move, regardless of the custody arrangement. Rather, the move must be planned and communicated in advance. When the other parent contests the move, the decision may require legal action to resolve.

Massachusetts law states that a child who is either a native of the state or who has lived here for five years or more cannot be removed without the consent of both parents. The parent wishing to move out of state must first notify and obtain the consent of the other parent. When the other parent objects, the court will intervene.

Factors Massachusetts courts consider in relocation cases

Massachusetts courts general consider three items in relocation or removal cases: the best interests of the parent requesting the move, of the parent objecting to the move and most importantly, of the child. Specifically, the court will consider:

  • The reason for the move. The parent wishing to move must prove that the move would provide an advantage to them and the child, such as relocating closer to family, accepting a better job offer, continuing education or more.
  • The best interests of the child. Both parents may attempt to prove why the move is or is not in the child’s best interests, including showing whether the move could improve the child’s quality of life, education, family relationships or more.
  • The effects to the other parent. Courts will also consider how an out-of-state move could influence the child’s relationship with the parent staying in Massachusetts, including how this change could affect the child.

For both parents, removal cases can become emotionally challenging. The thought of moving without your child or watching your child move out of state can be devastating. Discuss your situation with an attorney to determine your options to protect your parent-child relationship.