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Relocation After Divorce: Navigating Custody Issues in Minnesota

by | Jan 23, 2024 | Child Custody |


Once the courts have established a custody and parenting time order for children, a parent is not permitted to relocate the child out of state without permission of the other parent or the court. In this blog post, we will explore the factors involved in relocation cases and the steps parents can take to address this sensitive issue while safeguarding their child’s well-being.

The Importance of the Custody Order

During divorce proceedings, a custody order or parenting plan is established to outline the arrangements for child custody and visitation. This document plays a crucial role in determining the rights and responsibilities of each parent regarding the child’s care and residence. In some orders, parties may have agreed to a geographical restriction preventing relocation or limiting the children’s school to a particular geographical area.  A parent seeking to relocate should review their custody order.

Considering the Child’s Best Interests

In Minnesota, courts prioritize the child’s best interests when addressing relocation matters. When a parent seeks to move out of state with the child, they bear the burden of proving that the move will be in the child’s best interests. Courts consider various factors, such as:

  1. Child’s Relationship with Each Parent: The court will assess the strength of the child’s bond with each parent, siblings, or other significant persons in the child’s life, and the impact of the relocation on these relationships.
  2. Stability of the Current Environment: The child’s stability and the continuity of their daily routine and support systems in their current living situation are crucial considerations.
  3. Educational and Social Needs: The court will examine how the proposed move might affect the child’s education and social life.
  4. Reasons for Relocation: The parent seeking to move must provide valid and compelling reasons for the relocation, such as job opportunities, family support, or health reasons.
  5. Child’s Wishes (if age-appropriate): If the child is of an appropriate age, their preferences may be considered by the court.

Options for Addressing Relocation

When a parent wishes to move out of state with the child, there are several steps to consider:

  1. Mediation and Negotiation: Attempt to resolve the issue through mediation or negotiation, seeking a compromise that serves the child’s best interests and respects both parents’ needs. In many instances with a little creativity and compromise, parents can devise a new parenting time schedule that provides for comparable time.
  2. Filing an Objection or Motion: If no agreement is reached, file a motion with the court that seeks modification of the custody order to allow for or to prevent the relocation.
  3. Temporary Restraining Order: In urgent cases, a parent may seek a temporary restraining order to prevent the move until the court has reviewed the matter.

Seeking Legal Guidance

Navigating custody and relocation issues can be legally intricate, requiring a thorough understanding of Minnesota family law. It is highly advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide parents through the legal process, protect their rights, and represent their interests effectively.


Relocation after divorce is a delicate matter that demands careful consideration of the child’s best interests and legal requirements. Parents must work together, keeping lines of communication open, and prioritize the well-being of their child. While reaching an agreement may not always be possible, seeking legal counsel can provide clarity and guidance, ensuring the child’s needs are central to the decision-making process. By working collaboratively and with a focus on the child’s welfare, parents can address relocation issues in a manner that supports their child’s emotional and physical well-being.