Massachusetts’ laws regarding relocating with children after divorce

Divorced parents must obtain permission from their child’s other parent or the court to move outside of Massachusetts with their child.

A career change, the desire to be closer to family and any other number of reasons may contribute to people wanting to move outside of Massachusetts. For divorced parents, however, there may be much more to the process than just packing up boxes and loading the moving truck. With few exceptions, parents in the state of Massachusetts often require permission in order to relocate outside the state with their child.

Chapter 208, section 30 of the Massachusetts General Laws governs child relocation following a divorce. In general, the law applies to those who have lived in the state for at least five years or whose custody agreement falls under the jurisdiction of a Massachusetts probate court. Under the law, a divorced parent of a minor child must generally have permission from either the child's other parent or the court in order to relocate.

Permission from the child's other parent

Perhaps the easiest path to obtaining permission to relocate is with the permission of the child's other parent. According to Massachusetts Legal Services, a parent does not need approval from the court if the other parent agrees to the move. Typically, such permission is obtained by talking with the child's other parent.

If both parents agree to the relocation, it is generally advisable to put the agreement in writing and have it notarized. This may help protect both parents should the non-relocating parent decide to claim later that he or she did not agree to the move. Sometimes, a move will necessitate changes to an existing visitation schedule. In these cases, the agreed upon changes to the schedule should be put in writing, signed and notarized, and filed with the court.

Permission from the court

While the other parent denying permission for a relocation can complicate the matter, it does not necessarily eliminate the possibility of moving. Parents in these cases may request permission from the court. Often, this involves a modification of custody and visitation.

In making this determination, the court will typically consider what is in the child's best interests. This includes examining whether the move will improve the child's quality of life. Additionally, consideration may be given to how the move will impact the child's relationship with the non-relocating parent. Depending on the child's age, he or she may also be asked what their preference is.

Working with an attorney

Failing to obtain the proper permission prior to relocating may cause serious issues for parents in Massachusetts. As such, divorced parents who are considering a move outside the Commonwealth may find it of benefit to seek legal counsel and representation. An attorney may help them determine if the law does in fact apply to them and guide them through the process of obtaining court or parental permission

Keywords: divorce, child, custody, modification