It’s moving day. You’re moving from Portland to Eugene to start a new job and be closer to your boyfriend of 3 months. The truck is packed, the kids are in their car seats, your moving checklist is complete, and it’s time to start a new life and a new job in Eugene. One small problem, you forgot to notify your ex-husband, and father of the kids, that you were moving. Surely it’s just a small oversight. You think you will just tell him once the move has been completed, right?
Wrong. In Oregon, every divorce judgment must have a provision that states that neither parent may move to a residence more than 60 miles from the other parent without providing the other parent reasonable notice and providing notice of the move to the court. This provision allows the parent that is not moving to object to the move or try to rework the parenting plan so that it’s more convenient for both parents.
Reasonable notice is not defined. Certainly notice the day of the move isn’t reasonable. The amount of notice necessary depends on the distance of the move, the purpose behind the move, and when you found out that you needed to move. A month is probably reasonable notice in most circumstances, but the best measuring stick is to tell the other parent about the move and provide written notice as soon as the decision is made.
Since our courts aren’t models of efficiency, if the other parent files an objection to the move, the case may not be heard for two or more months. During that time, you probably will not be allowed to move.
So why not move first, provide notice later? Erase that thought immediately.
If you fail to provide notice you can be held in contempt of court which can result in losing custody of the children. Judges don’t like their orders to be violated, and don’t like it when a parent doesn’t consider the children or the other parent before deciding to uproot the children to a new city.
The judge will need to determine whether the move is in the children’s best interest – not the parent’s best interest. Moving because you want to be closer to your boyfriend probably won’t fly unless there are other reasons pushing the move.
In determining what is within the child’s best interest, judges will look at: whether the child’s needs are better served by the move; whether the moving parent will continue to foster the parent-child relationship between the other parent and the child; the reason for the move; the emotional ties between the parent that’s not moving and the child; whether the non-moving parent was regularly exercising parenting time; whether there is abuse; etcetera. This is not an exclusive list.
Since people move for any number of reasons, there is no one size fits all approach to analyzing these types of cases. Having been involved in these types of cases, they are fact specific and generally end up in litigation.
Consequently, if you plan on moving to a new city or state, and the move is more than 60 miles (unless a shorter distance is stated in the judgment), you should give the other parent and the court written notice as soon as possible.