Can a Custodial Parent Move Out of State?

For divorced parents with minor children, co-parenting and post-divorce living arrangements can be tricky. This is particularly true in cases where one parent has physical custody of a child and decides to move farther away from the noncustodial parent.

Noncustodial parents faced with the possibility of their child moving out of state are understandably curious about their rights. They undoubtedly don’t want to miss out on important parenting time with their child.

Similarly, custodial parents who wish to move their child out of state for a new job or other opportunity are understandably curious about their freedom to move.

Understanding the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA, aims to protect vulnerable children in precarious custody situations. If you are considering taking your child out of state, it’s important to understand this act and how it applies to custody cases in your state. 

Among other things, the UCCJEA stipulates that children have a “home state” that maintains jurisdiction over their custody case – even if they move out of state.

For example, let’s say a 10-year-old child named Adam was born and raised by both parents in State A. His parents get divorced, and his mother gains primary physical and legal custody of him. If Adam’s mother were to move him to another location in State A or even to State B, State A would remain the enforcing agency of his custody orders.

With the UCCJEA in place in most states, we know that a child shall have a “home” state that oversees their custody arrangements. This is true even if the child moves to another state. But a broader question still exists: Can a child’s custodial parent legally move them to another state? Does the non-moving parent have a say in the matter? State laws differ in this regard. 

Co-parenting with a solid custody agreement is difficult enough when both parents live near each other. When one parent wants to move out of state, it may feel like the child’s relationship with the other parent is threatened.

Move-away cases in various states

A “move-away” case is a situation in which one parent wants to move their child’s permanent residence to a faraway place. The move would affect the other parent’s access to the child.

Move-away case laws vary by state. For example, in Florida, a custodial parent who wants to move their child’s residence more than 50 miles from the non-custodial parent must first petition the court. Laws regarding parental rights stipulate that the custodial parent can’t just pack up and move.

Further, the parent who wants to relocate with the child must obtain the non-custodial parent’s written permission before they move.

In Kentucky, the laws are similar but not identical. If a relocating parent with custody of the child wants to move more than 100 miles from the non-custodial parent, they must file a Notice of Relocation first. The non-custodial parent has 20 days to respond to this move-away request. If the non-custodial parent opposes the move, they can take the custodial parent to court over it.

If you petition the court about a move to a new location, know that the judge’s job is to look out for the best interest of the child before making a ruling. Children’s best interests vary by custody case and by the presiding judge.

Do you share joint custody with your spouse? Read our article, Your Guide to Joint Child Custody, for more information.

Can Hello Divorce advise me on my move-away case?

If you’re struggling with custody matters such as a proposed move, we may be able to help. At Hello Divorce, we don’t just provide clients with an affordable online divorce platform. We also provide a menu of flat-fee services from which you can choose. 

One valuable service you might consider is mediation. If you and your spouse or ex are wrestling with the possibility of a long-distance move, a mediator may be able to help the two of you find a solution that fits everyone’s needs.

You can read more about move-away custody cases in various states on our website. For example, click any of the following to learn more about what the law says about moving out of state in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington.


Legal Information: Florida Custody.
Notice of Relocation.
Founder, CEO & Certified Family Law Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Insights, Legal Insights
After over a decade of experience as a Certified Family Law Specialist, Mediator and law firm owner, Erin was fed up with the inefficient and adversarial “divorce corp” industry and set out to transform how consumers navigate divorce - starting with the legal process. By automating the court bureaucracy and integrating expert support along the way, Hello Divorce levels the playing field between spouses so that they can sort things out fairly and avoid missteps. Her access to justice work has been recognized by the legal industry and beyond, with awards and recognition from the likes of Women Founders Network, TechCrunch, Vice, Forbes, American Bar Association and the Pro Bono Leadership award from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Erin lives in California with her husband and two children, and is famously terrible at board games.