Navigating Missouri Child Custody Relocation: What if a Custodial Parent Wants to Move Away with the Child?

Missouri child custody relocation occurs when one custodial parent chooses to move away from the other parent’s local area, risking separation of the child and parent. If your family is facing the possibility of relocation, there are a few things you need to know.

Basics of the Missouri Child Custody Relocation Laws


Relocation is the type of custody situation that parents often don’t imagine dealing with until it becomes a reality. In most divorce cases, the parent without primary custody still wants to be active in the child’s life. When the parent with primary custody decides to move out of Missouri or the St. Louis area, it becomes a lot more difficult.

Under Missouri law, relocation means “a change in the principal residence of a child for a period of ninety days or more, but does not include a temporary absence from the principal residence.” If the child’s principal residence has been changed for less than 90 days, that is considered a temporary absence, so these laws would not apply.

If you don’t have custody, you feel like a very important part of your life is being taken away, and know that your children deserve to have you in their life. If you are the parent with custody, your move could mean a better job or living arrangement, which in turn would also be better for your children. Both positions come with their own unique challenges.

Smooth custody cases can easily become difficult and painful when relocation is added to the mix. If you are a divorced parent who is planning to relocate, call The Carson Law Firm for experienced legal advice on your options and alternatives. If your child’s custodial parent is planning to relocate with your children, our child support attorney can work with you to develop a plan to protect your rights as a parent.

Missouri Relocation Statute: What Happens When a Relocating Parent Wants to Move?

In case one parent has to move to another city, out of state, or even out of the country, the State of Missouri has child relocation laws that determine a particular timeline of the events that parents have to follow before they actually begin their move. In addition, these laws also outline strict notice requirements.

When deciding about cases that consider relocation of a child, Missouri courts have to balance between the rights of a relocating parent to travel against the rights of the non-relocating parent regarding custody and visitation. Courts also have to consider the rights of the child and whether the proposed relocation is in the best interests of the child.

According to the Missouri child custody laws, courts, among other factors, have to consider the “mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse” when determining custody or visitation arrangements.

If there is evidence about violent behavior of the non-custodial parent against the minor child or former spouse, Missouri courts may also consider the stability and safety the proposed move would bring.

Child Custody Relocation Laws: What if Other Parent Objects?

In the State of Missouri, you can’t relocate your child anywhere, not even next door, if you don’t have the court’s permission. This applies whether you are the sole custodial parent with visitation granted to the other parent or you share joint custody. If a parent moves a child without permission, he or she risks the loss of his or her custodial rights.

If you are a relocating parent, and the non-relocating parent disagrees with the move, you have to prove to the court that you are acting in good faith and not trying to ruin the other parent’s relationship with the child.

When the relocation offers benefits that would improve the child’s life, the Missouri court may compare these benefits with the downsides a child would experience if the move was denied.

Missouri child custody laws and family law battles, in general, can be complicated and exhausting. Usually, both parents have their own version of what is in the child’s best interests.

Child Custody Relocation Rules and Considerations

A relocating or a moving parent has an obligation to notify the other parent about the relocation. According to the Missouri relocation statute, the written notice of a proposed relocation has to be sent as a certified letter, return receipt requested. He or she has to provide notice of the intended move at least 60 days before the move. This gives parents the chance to talk about the move and whether it is the best solution. Moving without this notification can affect the parent’s ability to relocate.

The written notice of intent to move has to include specific information, such as the specific address and mailing address if known, the home telephone number of the new residence, and the date of the intended move. Also, notice must include a proposal for a revised parenting plan as well as a revised custody or visitation schedule.

If the non-relocating party and the relocating party agree to a child relocation, proposed revisions, and a visitation schedule, they can submit their agreement to the court. If the agreement is signed by all parties who have child custody and visitation rights, the court may approve the proposed revisions of the parenting plan without a hearing.

In case the party seeking to relocate doesn’t provide notice of the proposed relocation, the non-relocating parent can ask the court to prevent the relocation.

The non-custodial or the non-moving parent can also object to the proposed relocation if they file a motion with the court. In that motion, the non-relocating parent can outline why they object to the proposed move.

After that, under Missouri law, “the person seeking relocation shall file a response to the motion within fourteen days unless extended by the court for good cause, and include a counter-affidavit setting forth the facts in support of the relocation as well as a proposed revised parenting plan for the child.”

If the non-relocating parent fails to file such motion within 30 days, their objection will most likely be waived, and the move will be permitted when the 60-day period expires, even without a court order.

If parents don’t agree on the fact that the move would be in the best interests of the child or children and a party objecting files a formal Objection to Relocation, a judge will have to give the final decision on this matter by permitting the move or prohibiting it.

However, if the non-moving parent has received the notice and doesn’t object to the move, parents must submit the terms of their agreement to the court. These terms also have to include a revised schedule of visitation and custody arrangements.

How to Win a Relocation Custody Case in Missouri

The State of Missouri has strict relocation laws. Although in some states, custodial parents can freely move with their child within a certain geographical allowance, in Missouri, that is not the case. The best way to win a relocation custody case is to follow the statutory requirements strictly.

However, if the court finds that the safety or health of the child or any adult would be placed at risk by disclosing certain information regarding a proposed move, the court may order that information should not be disclosed in the documents, pleadings, notice, or the final order. In addition, notice requirements may be waived to protect the child’s health or safety. 

If relocation is permitted, the court would want to ensure the child has telephone access as well as meaningful, continuing, and frequent contact with the non-custodial parent “unless the child’s best interest warrants otherwise.” 

Can a Custodial Parent Relocate?

Yes, a custodial parent can relocate, but not without permission. In other words, if that parent intends to move, she or he can’t just pack up and leave.

As we have explained, under Missouri Law, if one parent wants to relocate with a child, and she or he shares child custody with the other parent, the relocating parent has to notify the other parent.

The notice has to contain information about the intended new residence, such as a mailing address and a telephone number. A brief statement explaining the reasons for the proposed move should also be included.

The party seeking relocation should send all this information, including the proposed revision of the visitation and custody arrangements, to the other parent by certified mail and request a return receipt. The law requires sending a notice via certified mail because it provides a date when the non-relocating parent receives the mail. That is important because of the 60-days deadline the other parent has to object to the move.

If the party seeking to relocate fails to provide adequate notice to the other parent, the court may consider to modify custody order and visitation rights, order the return of the child, as well as order the relocating parent to pay reasonable expenses and attorneys’ fees incurred by the other parent.


Can a Custodial Parent Move a Child Out of State?

In the State of Missouri, the custodial parent who wants to move with their child to another state must obtain permission from the court or from the non-relocating or non-custodial parent before the move.

Moving with your child without permission can result in severe repercussions and may even lead to losing custody or visitation rights.

What You Need to Know About Child Relocation Laws in Missouri

When one parent wishes to move to another part of the city or the state with their child, specific requirements have to be fulfilled so the move would go smoothly.

A sensitive and skilled family law attorney can help you make the best decisions for your family. We are well-versed in custody issues as well as child relocation laws and can help you navigate this legal process.

The Carson Law Firm understands that relocation is a difficult issue, no matter which side of the case you are on. We can help you with your relocation case. We have the knowledge and resources you need to ensure that your child support and custody issues are addressed to maximize the benefit to you and your child. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.