Moving Outside Minnesota: What Divorced Parents Need to Know

The formal end of a marriage causes many Minnesota parents to consider expanding their horizons, sometimes by moving out of state for a new job, to be closer to extended family, or for a new relationship. Of course, Minnesota law can't prohibit a person from moving, but it can dictate whether a mother or father can take the kids along when they move outside Minnesota.

Not all that long ago, ​custody arrangements played a much larger role in determining whether courts would allow a Minnesota parent to move his or her children to another state. If a parent had primary physical custody, courts typically granted any reasonable request for an out-of-state move. The non-custodial parent had the burden of showing that the request was not reasonable and that the court should not permit the relocation. If the non-custodial parent could not meet this burden, the other parent could proceed with the move.

Current Law Regarding Out-of-State Moves

A divorced Minnesota parent who wishes to move outside the state with a child or children now faces a significantly greater challenge than in the past. Out-of-state moves are currently governed by Minnesota Statute 518.175(3). This law states that the parent with whom a child resides shall not move the child's residence to another state, except with the other parent's consent (assuming the other parent has been granted parenting time), or by the court's order. If the court believes the proposed move is intended to interfere with the other parent's ​parenting time, it will not allow the move.

As with determining custody or parenting time, Minnesota courts apply a "best interests" analysis when deciding whether to let a parent move out of state with a child. Factors that must be considered in this analysis include:

  • The nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant persons;
  • The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child, including any special needs;
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent if the move takes place;
  • The child's preference, taking into account the child's age and maturity;
  • Whether the parent seeking the relocation has shown a pattern of conduct either promoting or thwarting the relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Whether the move will enhance the general quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent;
  • Each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation;
  • Whether the safety of the child or the parent seeking relocation is affected by domestic abuse.

The issue of ​domestic violence is taken very seriously by Minnesota courts; if the court finds that the parent seeking permission to relocate has been a victim of domestic abuse, the burden of proof shifts to the parent opposing the move. This makes it easier for victims of domestic abuse and their children to move away from their abusers.

Planning Ahead for a Move

The takeaway is this: if you are contemplating divorce and a potential move out of state, or have already divorced and want to relocate with your children, proceed carefully. Discuss all of the circumstances, including the "best interests" factors, with an experienced Minnesota family law attorney in order to optimize your chances of having a move approved.

To learn how the law applies to the facts of your particular case, we invite you to contact Bloch and Whitehouse, P.A. at (952) 224-9977 to schedule a free initial consultation. We look forward to working with you.