If there is a custody order in place, can I relocate with my children?
To get specific advice about your situation, we recommend talking to an attorney. If you are thinking of moving up to 75 miles away, you may want to ask an attorney whether or not you have to notify the court or the other parent in some way. For intended moves of more than 75 miles, Oklahoma has a law that requires parents to give a written notice of intended relocation to the other parent if they are going to move more than 75 miles from their current residence (for 60 days or longer) and there is custody and visitation order in place.* The notice has to be sent by mail to the last-known address of the person to be notified, and you have to send it at least 60 days before you intend to move or if you did not know about the move 60 days in advance (and you can’t delay the move), you have to send it within 10 days of finding out. The following information has to be included in the notice:
- the intended new residence, including the specific address, if known,
- the mailing address, if not the same,
- the home telephone number, if known,
- the date of the intended move or proposed relocation,
- a brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child, if applicable,
- a proposal for a revised schedule of visitation with the child, if any, and
- a warning to the non-relocating parent that an objection to the relocation must be made within 30 days or the relocation will be permitted.
However, if you believe that you or your child would be in danger by giving the required identifying information in the notice, you can ask the judge to order that the address and telephone number and other identifying information will not be shown to the abuser. You can also ask for permission to not give the 60 days (or 10 days) notice if that would endanger you or your child. The judge can hold an ex parte hearing (without the abuser present) to decide on these issues.
If the other parent disagrees with the move, s/he has to file an objection in court (and can ask for a temporary or permanent order to prevent the relocation) within thirty days after receiving the notice in the mail. Note: A non-parent who has a visitation order cannot legally object to the relocation but can file to get a new visitation schedule.**
If you don’t properly notify someone who has custody or visitation rights about the relocation (without the court telling you that you do not have to share the information in order to protect the safety of you or the child), the court may take that into account when determining whether to allow you to move, to change the custody or visitation arrangements, or make you pay any attorney fees and costs of the other party who objects to your relocation. It can also be the reason that the judge orders the return of the child if the relocation has taken place without notice.***
* 43 O.S. § 112.3(A)(5),(C)
** 43 O.S. § 112.3(A)-(I)
*** 43 O.S. § 112.3(F)