Moving Out of State With Child No Custody Agreement

moving out of state with child no custody agreement

Moving out of state with a child can be complicated, especially if you don’t have a formal custody order in place. In Minnesota, a parent needs permission from the court or the other parent to relocate with a minor child if there is no existing custody arrangement. Without the proper consent, taking a child out of state without a custody order could be considered parental kidnapping.

It’s important to understand the laws, risks, and process involved when relocating with a child in Minnesota so you don’t jeopardize your custody rights. Here’s what Minnesota parents need to know about moving out of state with a child without a custody agreement or court order.

Understanding Child Custody Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a state court to make decisions about child custody. When parents live in the same state as their child, jurisdiction is straightforward. However, when a parent wants to move out of state with the child, complications can arise.

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the state that has original jurisdiction in a child custody case typically retains exclusive jurisdiction until the child and both parents no longer reside there.

For example, if you and your child’s other parent both live in Minnesota but you want to relocate to California with your son, Minnesota courts would retain jurisdiction because the other parent still lives there. California would not have authority to modify the initial Minnesota custody order.

This underscores why it’s critical to establish a clear custody arrangement through a Minnesota court before relocating. Otherwise, you may not be able to enforce or modify custody in your new home state.

Custody Agreement Needed to Move Out of State

In Minnesota, if parents do not have a court-approved custody agreement or order, they are presumed to have joint legal and physical custody of their children. This means neither parent can relocate out of state with the child without permission from the other parent or an authorized court order.

Even if criminal charges are not filed, the left-behind parent can file an emergency motion for the child’s return. A judge may immediately order the child be returned until a formal hearing can be held.

This is true for both married and unmarried parents without a custody agreement in Minnesota. The only exception is if there is evidence the child or relocating parent is at risk of physical or emotional harm. In limited circumstances, a parent may be granted permission to temporarily move away with the child.

However, it’s essential that relocating parents follow specific legal steps to request court approval before disrupting the status quo custody arrangement. Otherwise, drastic consequences can occur.

What Are the Risks of Moving Child Out of State Without Permission?

Moving out of state with a child in Minnesota without the consent of the other parent or the court is never recommended. Doing so can have serious legal consequences:

  • The left-behind parent can file an emergency court order – They can petition for an emergency court hearing to have the child immediately returned. A judge could order law enforcement pick up the child.
  • It may be considered felony deprivation of custodial rights – If done intentionally, taking a child out of state without permission could lead to criminal charges.
  • The relocating parent may lose custody rights – The court could find that restricting the other parent’s access to the child is against the child’s best interests and award the other parent full custody.
  • The relocating parent may have to immediately return if contested – If the left-behind parent contests, the relocating parent will likely have to come back right away to deal with the court proceedings.
  • Jail time is possible for parental kidnapping – In serious cases, a judge could order jail time for depriving the other parent of their lawful custody rights.

Unless there is domestic violence, abuse, or harm involved, it is rarely legally permissible to relocate out of state with a child in Minnesota without consent or a court order. Doing so almost always backfires, resulting in emergency court intervention.

Modifying Custody for Out of State Relocation

To gain court approval to move out of state with your child as the primary custodial parent, you must file a petition to modify custody and then prove:

  • Reason for moving – Courts typically require a legitimate reason for relocation like a job, marriage, or family support. Custodial parents must show how the move will improve lives.
  • Child’s best interests – Most critical is proving the child’s interests are best served by moving and adjusting custody terms. Factors like school quality, relationships, stability, and mental health are weighed.
  • Visitation plan – A long-distance parenting plan must preserve the noncustodial parent’s visitation rights. Things like virtual contact, summer visits, and holiday schedules will be addressed.
  • Communication plan – Continued communication between the child and other parent must be feasible. The court will want to see how relationships will be maintained.
  • Shared custody risks – If parents share joint physical custody, disrupting that is problematic. Unless safety is a concern, judges prefer both parents remain closely involved in child-rearing day-to-day.

The burden of proof rests on the relocating parent to satisfy these factors to the court by a preponderance of evidence. That can be challenging when the other parent contests the move.

A family law attorney can build the strongest case possible and represent your interests in court if the other parent fights your relocation request. This greatly improves the chance a judge will approve the custody modification.

How Does a Parent Get Permission to Move With a Child?

If you want to move out of state with your child in Minnesota, the lawful ways to get permission include:

  • Obtain written consent from the other parent – If you have a friendly co-parenting relationship, the other parent may be willing to sign a notarized consent form granting permission for the move. Get this consent in writing before relocating.
  • Get a new court custody order granting permission – File a motion with the court asking for an order allowing the move. Be prepared to show it is in the child’s best interests. The other parent can contest the proposed relocation.
  • Modify the existing custody order – If a custody order is already in place, file a motion to modify it and get court approval for the move. Discuss modifying the parenting time schedule.
  • File for sole legal and physical custody – Seek a court order for sole custody that grants you the exclusive right to relocate with the child out of state without input from the other parent.

Without the other parent’s consent or a Minnesota court granting permission through a custody order, moving out of state with a minor child is not legally permitted.

How Does a Parent File for Custody in Minnesota?

If there is no custody order for your child in Minnesota, you will need to petition the court and establish custody if you want legal permission to move out of state. The steps include:

  • File a child custody case in family court – You start the custody process by filing a Summons and Petition to establish custody in the Minnesota county where you live.
  • Serve the other parent – Legally notify the other parent of the custody case through accepted service of process. This gives them a chance to respond.
  • Gather evidence for your custody case – Document information that supports your custody request, such as the child’s schedule, involvement, and best interests.
  • Attend mediation if required – Many Minnesota courts require mediation for initial custody disputes to see if parents can agree on custody.
  • Present your custody case in court – If you don’t reach an agreement in mediation, your case will go before a family court judge who will issue a custody order. Provide evidence on the statutory best interest factors.
  • Request permission to relocate – When presenting your custody case, ask the judge to grant permission in the custody order for you to relocate out of state with the child. Offer a revised schedule for the other parent’s parenting time.

Following the proper legal process to establish custody ensures your rights are protected as a parent if you want to move out of state.

How Might a Judge Rule on a Relocation Request in a Custody Case?

When a parent requests to move out of state with a child in a Minnesota custody case, the judge will make a ruling based on the child’s best interests. To determine this, the court will consider:

  • The child’s ties to each parent, siblings, extended family, community, school, and friends in the current location
  • The potential impact on the child’s physical and emotional development
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the child and the other parent with a long-distance parenting time schedule
  • The reasons for the proposed move, such as financial circumstances, marriage, or career opportunity
  • Whether the move appears intended to interfere with the parenting time of the other parent
  • The potential advantages of the new location, including educational opportunities, health care, and family support system

There are no guarantees a judge will grant a relocation request. The court’s priority is protecting the best interests of the child. However, working with an experienced Minnesota family law attorney can help you build the strongest case possible to allow the move.

Tips for Moving Out of State With Children in Minnesota

  • Consult a qualified Minneapolis child custody lawyer before relocating without consent
  • Try to gain the other parent’s written consent if possible
  • Notify the other parent of the proposed move as a courtesy
  • Offer a new visitation schedule to preserve their access and relationship with the child
  • Get an existing custody order modified by the court to allow relocation before moving
  • Provide documentation on how the move benefits the child’s interests
  • Be ready to return if the other parent contests the relocation immediately
  • Comply with all Minnesota custody laws and court orders

Protect Your Rights as a Parent With Legal Help

Relocating with a child in Minnesota without proper consent can put your custody at risk. Martine Law understands the complications Minnesota parents face when seeking to move out of state with a child and can provide experienced legal guidance.

Our Minneapolis family law attorneys will advise you on the relocation process, help negotiate consent from the other parent when possible, and represent your custody case in court if needed. We are committed to protecting your rights as a parent while acting in your child’s best interests. Contact us for a free consultation.

Schedule a free consultation with Martine Law today to discuss your child custody case or get legal advice on moving out of state with a child in Minnesota. Our experienced family lawyers will help you explore your options.

Author Bio

Xavier Martine

Xavier Martine is the Founder of Martine Law, a Minnesota criminal defense and family law firm. Serving clients in Minneapolis, MN, and surrounding areas, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters, including DWIs, drug charges, misdemeanors, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. He also represents clients in family law matters, including divorce, child support, and child custody.

Xavier received his Juris Doctor from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Under 40 in Minnesota” in 2021 by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He was also named the “Best DUI Lawyer in Minneapolis” award in 2023 by and a “Rising Star” in 2023 by SuperLawyers.

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