In a Missouri divorce, absent agreement between the parties, relocation is governed by statute.
Pursuant to the Missouri relocation statute (R.S.Mo. § 452.377), a parent cannot relocate a child’s principal residence for a period of 90 days or more without notifying the other parent 60 days in advance of the relocation.
According to Missouri divorce laws, the notice must include the following information:
1. The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not, then the city;
2. Home telephone of the new residence;
3. The date of the intended move to the new residence;
4. Brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child; and
5. A proposal for a revised custody schedule or visitation with the child.
The party required to give notice has a continuing duty to provide changes to the information requested as soon as such information becomes known.
The court will consider a failure to provide notice of a child as:
1. A factor in determining whether custody and visitation should be modified;
2. A basis for ordering the return of the child if the relocation occurs without notice; and
3. Sufficient cause to order the party seeking to relocate the child to pay reasonable expenses and attorneys fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation.
Assuming the party seeking relocation does provide notice, the non-relocating parent then has the opportunity to file a motion with the court seeking to prevent the relocation.
The non-relocating party has 30 days after receipt of the notice of relocation to file a motion with the court. Such motion must include the specific reasons why the non-relocating party does not support the relocation.
The relocating party then has the burden of proving to the court that the proposed relocation is in the best interests of the child.
Additionally, the party seeking relocation only has 14 days to provide a response upon receipt of the non-relocating party’s objection.
In exceptional circumstances, however, the court may find that the health and/or safety of the child or the parent relocating would be put at risk by disclosing this information.
The court may order that the notice requirements be waived to the extent necessary to protect the health and/or safety of the child or relocating parent.
Additionally, the court may also order that the specific address and telephone number of the relocating party and child not be disclosed in any pleadings, notice, or other document filed with the court.
Lastly, the court may take any other remedial action necessary to facilitate the needs of the parties and the best interests of the child.
A violation of the provisions in the Missouri relocation statute or included in a court order may be deemed a change in circumstances sufficient to allow the court grounds to modify the original divorce decree.
Additionally, any party in violation of the relocation provisions may be held in contempt of court.
The Missouri divorce attorneys at Cordell & Cordell work to help men maximize their roles in their children’s lives.
For additional information and possible legal representation, please contact the domestic litigation firm of Cordell & Cordell, a partner men can count on.