While working through your divorce proceedings, it may certainly seem difficult to think about the future. Yet your life will indeed go on upon the formal dissolution of your marriage. Part of that may include the opportunity to move away from North Carolina to pursue a new relationship or career opportunities, or to be closer to extended family.
There is nothing wrong with you wanting to move away following your divorce; trouble may arise, however, when determining whether such an action will drastically alter your child custody agreement.
Many states have statutes that specifically address the issue of parental relocation; North Carolina, however, does not. Thus, the individual circumstances of each case dictate how state courts rule on them. Yet past state Supreme Court rulings do set a general standard governing such decision. That standard states that local family courts may modify or switch custody (even primary custody) depending on whether or not the court believes a relocation to be in a child’s best interests.
When determining such interests in your case, the court will typically examine your motives for wanting to move. If there is any element of perceived vindictiveness behind your proposed relocation (as in you wanting to move to restrict your ex-spouse’s access to your kids), the court may take that into account in its judgment (unless there is reason to worry about your children’s safety). However, if your reasons for moving are legitimate, the chances of if dramatically impacting your current custody agreement may lessen.
You may be able to maintain some control over changes to your custody agreement prompted by a move by working with your ex-spouse. If you can submit an amended agreement to the court that you come up with together, the court will typically respect and reward your collaborative efforts.