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Planning a move? You may need a parenting plan modification

Summer is not just a time for sun and fun. It's also a time when many families take advantage of the school break to relocate for a parent's career, new educational opportunities for the children, or to be closer to distant family. If the parents are still married, then it's usually not a big deal. Yes, they will have to say goodbye to their old home, but the prospect of starting a new life somewhere else is exciting, as is the idea of exploring their new locale as a family.

When parents are divorced, however, and one of them plans on moving, things are much more complicated. Whether a move is to the other side of the state or across the country, when you co-parent - and are subject to a parenting plan set out by a Nebraska family court - you can't make one-sided decisions that will impact your child's life. This is true both when you are the primary custodian and when you are considered the non-custodial parent.

The practical impact of one parent's relocation

If the custodial parent wants to relocate, it may leave the non-custodial parent out in the proverbial cold. A move can have a significant impact on the ability of the other parent to maintain a relationship with the child by limiting visitation and quality time. The party wishing to relocate would, if the parents cannot agree upon a new parenting time schedule (or the non-custodial parent doesn't acquiesce to the move), have to request a modification of the parenting time schedule from the family court.

Even when it's the non-custodial parent who is asking for a modification because of a planned move, the impact on the child, and on the original parenting plan schedule, can be huge.

Let's say that the current parenting plan has the child spending one night a week and every other weekend with the non-custodial parent, plus alternating holidays and a two-week vacation each summer. If the non-custodial parent moves to a different state, this will obviously need to change. As part of the modification request, the non-custodial parent might ask the court to approve a revised parenting plan where the child now visits for the entire summer, or the non-custodial parent might even make a motion to seek full custody him or herself.

When making a decision about a relocation modification request, the court will:

  • Analyze the reasons behind the move request and why one parent is disputing it
  • Determine what impact the move will have on the child and on the relationship the child enjoys with the non-custodial parent
  • Weigh the various outcomes if the modification request is or is not granted

Ultimately, however, the court's overarching consideration will always be to do what is in the best interests of the child.

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