Child Relocation

Coeur d’Alene Child Relocation Attorney

Relocation in Family Law Matters

According to a source, 11 percent of divorced adults move, as compared to 7.8 percent of married adults. Divorced parents with younger children are more likely to move than those with older children, despite the fact that very young children are at the “highest risk for relocation-related adjustment problems.” What happens when one parent wants to relocate, possibly to the other side of the U.S.? Because the issue can be complex, having a Coeur d’Alene relocation attorney by your side when issues regarding relocation come up can make a difference in the outcome of the situation.


If you are divorced and have children, you may not have the same freedoms you had prior to the divorce and custody agreement. Suppose you receive a great job offer in another state, or your relatives in another state agree to provide childcare while you work? Either of these scenarios is obviously good for you—and possibly equally good for your children.

Yet if your ex-spouse doesn’t agree with the move, you may have to work your way through the family courts, ultimately receiving permission from a judge to move. While you are certainly free to move whenever and wherever you want, if the child’s other parent objects, you will almost surely find yourself in court debating the issue.

Why Choose a Coeur d’Alene Relocation Attorney from Crouse Erickson?

Whether you find yourself in the position of being unable to move—or you do not want your ex-spouse to move with your children—it could be extremely beneficial to speak to a Coeur d’Alene relocation attorney from Crouse Erickson. The Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys have more than thirty years of experience with family matters like relocation.

We are a highly client-centric family law firm; we are results-driven and want our clients to be glad they chose our firm. We aim higher than simply navigating technical legal processes—we truly go above and beyond to ensure our clients are able to navigate life-altering processes with as little stress and hassle as possible. We are exclusively a family law practice with an intricate knowledge of Idaho family law as well as the necessary resources to provide every client with personalized counsel and representation.

Child Custody in the State of Idaho

The state of Idaho bases child custody on the best interests of the children. The court will determine whether one parent will have primary legal and physical custody, whether legal and physical custody will be shared between the parents, or whether there will be some mixture of the two. Legal custody refers to decision-making rights regarding health decisions, education decisions, and religious decisions. The parents may share legal custody, or one parent may be granted legal custody.

The court will then decide where the child will physically live, and how the parents will spend physical time with the child This is known as physical custody. The factors used by the judge to determine legal and physical custody include:

  • The wishes of both parents as shown by a proposed parenting plan submitted by both parents;
  • The relationships of the child with each parent, siblings, grandparents, or others who may spend significant time with the child;
  • How the decisions regarding legal and physical custody will promote continuity and stability for the child;
  • The child’s current adjustment to his or her home, school, and community, and how that adjustment could be altered by the custody decision;
  • Whether there is any history of abuse by either parent;
  • The mental and physical health of all those involved;
  • The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child, and
  • When the child is mature enough, the child’s wishes.

The factor regarding relocation assumes one parent has already expressed a wish to relocate. This could definitely affect a final custody decision, therefore, most parents—even if they know they may want to relocate—will wait until a custody decision is made, then will return to court for permission to relocate.

Joint physical custody means each parent has “significant,” but not necessarily equal time when the child lives with them. True 50/50 splits are rare unless the parents live near one another—and get along well with one another. Sole physical custody means the child resides with one parent while the non-custodial parent has specific visitation rights. Generally, relocation issues involve a custodial parent that wants to move and a non-custodial parent that is not willing to give up his or her already limited time with the child.

What Has the State of Idaho Done Regarding Relocation in the Past?

In the case of Roberts v. Roberts, the mother of two had primary physical custody and the father saw the children every other weekend, four weeks in the summer, and on alternating holidays. The custody agreement specifically mentioned that the mother would reside in one of two counties in Idaho and could not permanently remove the children from those counties without the written consent of the father or a court order.  Several years later, the mother filed a petition to allow her to move away from her current location to a county that was 160 miles away. The mother specified an employment opportunity.

The couple went through mediation with no resolution. At the hearing, the father alleged the mother was moving, not strictly for an employment opportunity, but to marry the man she was engaged to—who happened to be on probation for embezzlement. The judge determined it was not in the children’s best interests for the mother to relocate, stating if she did relocate, primary custody would be transferred to the father. The mother appealed, however, the appeal was denied, although she argued there was an undue emphasis on the criminal history of her fiancé.

In the case of Nelson v. Nelson, the mother and father were awarded joint legal and physical custody of the three minor children. Several years later, the mother made plans to remarry, relocating the children. The father filed a motion for primary physical custody, but the judge allowed the mother to retain custody. The judge also allowed the mother to move the children, finding it in the best interests of the children, and—without be asked by either parent—changed the holiday schedule so the father would have fewer holidays with the children.

The theory behind this was that all the necessary travel during the holidays to see the father would not be in the best interests of the children. The judge concluded that the move constituted a material change in circumstances that required a revision of the visitation schedule to serve the best interests of the children. The bottom line with relocation issues that end up in front of an Idaho judge is that the judge will consider only the best interests of the child or children, rather than the best interests of the parent. In other words, if obtaining a new job that required relocation was not only good for the parent but would also benefit the children in material ways (i.e., better schools, better medical treatments, better financial stability), then the judge will likely allow the move.

What Are the Rules in Idaho for Relocation?

If you are the parent that wants to move out of the state—or even across the state—once again, the best interests of the child will take precedence. As the relocating parent, you must be able to show there has been a “permanent and material change of circumstance.” This means there has been a major change in either your life or that of your child since the original custody order and that this major change would justify the proposed move. The court will then apply the best interests of the child factors to decide whether the move will be allowed, and, if so, how custody will be adjusted.

If you are the parent who does not want your ex-spouse to move with the children, you will file a motion to modify custody and deny relocation. The hearing will be similar to a trial. Both parents will appear, preferably with attorneys. This type of case can be complex and emotional, so it makes sense to have a legal professional by your side. Both sides will be allowed to present evidence and call witnesses to testify on their behalf. Both sides will be able to cross-examine the other’s witnesses, disputing the value of the evidence presented. Idaho law, the child’s best interests, and the evidence presented will determine the judge’s decision.

Can I Move Out of State with My Child Even if My Ex Disagrees?

It is never a good idea to move out of state with your child without the blessing of the court. If you leave without the permission of a judge, you could be ordered to return your child to your prior residence. Aside from the sheer logistics and expense involved in moving, then being ordered to move back to your former residence, the judge will not look kindly upon you in future custody issues. In fact, the judge may even sanction you with a contempt order that includes fines and jail time and can change custody in favor of the non-custodial parent.

How Can a Coeur d’Alene Relocation Attorney from Crouse Erickson Help?

No matter which side of the issue you are on, having a Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorney to help with relocation can make all the difference in the outcome. As noted, Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys are an exclusive family law practice. With an office located in Coeur d’Alene, our firm serves all of Kootenai County. Many other firms that practice family law “dabble” in other legal areas as well, but we do not. This means we have a deep, intricate knowledge of Idaho family law issues. Our extraordinary preparation for each and every case means we are ready to tackle any issues that might arise in your family law case. Contact Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys today for all your Idaho family law needs.

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