Can You Move Your Child Out of North Carolina After Divorce?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How does custody work if one parent moves internationally?”


Relocating following a divorce is always a tough decision. However, moving out of state or country with a child or children after a divorce is even more difficult and complicated from both a legal and emotional perspective.

moving-truck-Charlotte-Lake-Norman-Monroe-Child-custody-lawyer-300x200In North Carolina, whether or not a parent can relocate with their child following divorce depends on who has custody of the child. The custodial parent may be required to receive permission from the other parent to move out of state or country. However, the custodial parent’s ability to relocate with a child depends on where they are moving, their reason for relocation, and how the move would affect the child’s welfare and best interest.

Many child custody orders or separation/divorce agreements restrict a parent’s ability to relocate with children. When a parent decides to move out of state or country in violation of the custody order, the other parent can obtain an emergency custody order to forcibly return the child to North Carolina.


Do You Need the Other Parent’s Permission to Relocate With Children?

The answer to that question comes down to whether you have a child custody order or not.


If You do Not Have a Custody Order

If there is no child custody order in place, you risk running into legal trouble if you move out of North Carolina or the country without the other parent’s permission. If you and your child have spent the past six months in North Carolina, the state is considered the “home state” for purposes of deciding custody issues.

Thus, if you relocate with a child before a custody order is established, the other parent could file a court action requesting you to return the child to North Carolina. Also, your attempt to take your children out of their home state without the other parent’s permission could be used against you in the upcoming custody case.


You Have a Custody Order

If there is a custody order in place, you are required to file a court action informing the court and the other parent of your intent to move. It is advised to inform the court and the opposing party of your intent to relocate with the child before moving. Failure to request a hearing before you relocate could cause the court to require you to forcibly return the child to their home state.

If the custody order restricts your ability to relocate with your child, it could be a good idea to modify the court order. Attempting to move out of state without modifying the order could lead to sanctions and penalties, not to mention that you would be required to return the child and could be held in contempt.


Relocating With Children When You Have Physical Custody

In North Carolina, physical custody includes the parent’s right to determine where the child should live. If the custodial parent who has physical custody decides to relocate with their child, a court is likely to agree that the move is in the child’s best interest unless the other parent can provide clear evidence to prove that the relocation would be harmful to the child.

Consult with our knowledgeable family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, if you are considering relocating with your child following a divorce. Talk to our lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to review your particular situation. Get a phone or video consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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