Notice of Intent to Relocate in Indiana
When a parent subject to a custody or parenting time order intends to relocate, they must, under most circumstances, notify the other parent. In Indiana, this is referred to as the notice of intent to relocate. While these types of situations are common and occur on a daily basis, relocation can be stressful and concerning, especially for a non-custodial parent. However, there are some options available to non-custodial parents, who can either object to the relocation or seek a modification to parenting time in Indiana.
If you’re a non-custodial parent who faces the relocation of their children, then it is vital that you have a team of vigilant and knowledgeable Indianapolis relocation attorneys by your side. The compassionate, yet forward thinking family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are experienced, hands-on litigators who can build and present a strong, compelling case on your behalf. To speak with a relocation attorney today, call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form.
What is a Notice of Intent to Relocate in Indiana?
Indiana divorce law requires that certain procedures be taken when a parent subject to a parenting time or custody order plans to relocate. The most common of these procedures is the notice of intent to relocate. Per Indiana Code 31-17-2.2-1, an individual must file notice of the intent to relocate with the court and serve copies of the notice on the nonrelocating individual, unless:
- A prior court order has already addressed the relocation
- A prior court order has relieved the parties of filing a notice of intent to relocate
- The proposed relocation would allow the children to remain in their current school district and:
- The proposed relocation will decrease the distance between the relocating individual’s residence and that of the nonrelocating individual
- The proposed relocation will increase the distance between the relocating individual’s residence and that of the nonrelocating individual no more than 20 miles
One major misconception about the notice of intent to relocate in Indiana is that it only applies to the custodial parent. Based on the definition above, that’s not the case. Even if the parent that is seeking relocation doesn’t have primary physical custody, in Indiana, they are still required to file a notice of intent to relocate.
Filing a Notice of Intent to Relocate
The purpose of providing a notice of intent to relocate in Indiana is to give the other custodian, as well as the court, enough information to properly evaluate the impact of the intended move on the current child-related orders and take the steps necessary to address any anticipated problems. Therefore, Indiana Code 31-17-2.2-3 stipulates that no later than 30 days prior to relocation or within 14 days of becoming aware of the relocation (whichever is sooner), the relocating individual must file a notice of intent to relocate, and include the following information:
- The address of the intended new residence
- The mailing address after the relocation, if different from the residential address
- A complete list of the relocating individual’s telephone numbers
- The date of the planned move
- A brief explanation of the reasons for the proposed move
- A statement on whether the relocating parent anticipates the move will require a change in current parenting time or grandparent visitation schedules
Responding to a Notice of Intent to Relocate in Indiana
Indiana law requires that the non-relocating parent file a response within 20 days after service of the notice of intent to relocate. This response may include a written objection and a request to the court asking them to prevent the child’s relocation, either temporarily or permanently; a written statement of no objection, but a request to modify relevant orders for child custody, child support, parenting time or grandparent visitation; or a written statement of no objection and no desire to modify the existing child-related court orders. Upon request by either party, the court will set a hearing to determine the issues raised in the response to the notice of intent.
In some limited instances, no response is required from the non-relocating guardian. This is often a result of the two parties having reached an agreement about the relocation and filed a written agreement addressing all relevant issues. If the agreement results in a change to an existing child support order, the parties must then attach a signed Child Support Obligation Worksheet as well.
Failing to file a response within 20 days of being served a notice of intent to relocate can seriously impact your ability to contest the move or modify relevant court orders. To ensure that everything is being done to protect your children’s best interest, you should contact an Indiana Relocation Attorney as soon as possible.
To speak with a family law attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form. We can assist in negotiating and drafting an objection to a notice of intent to relocate or assist in drafting an agreement on relocation matters. Ultimately, our goal is to help you build and present a plan for relocation that persuasively addresses the best interests of your family.
Objecting to a Notice of Intent to Relocate
When the non-relocating guardian objects to the other party’s intent to relocate, the court may order the two parties to participate in mediation, decide the matter by considering the parties’ filings, or set the matter for hearing. When evaluating the parties’ filings or hearing evidence, the court must examine the reasons for the move and the effect it will have on all relevant parties. From there, the court will determine whether to allow the move with or without any changes to the existing child-related orders. In some situations, the court may allow for the move but also find grounds for changing orders related to custody, child support, parenting time, and/or grandparent visitation.
In reaching its decision, Indiana law requires courts to consider the follow factors:
- How far the relocating individual plans to move
- Whether the move will result in hardship on nonrelocating individuals to exercise parenting time or grandparent visitation
- The effect of the move on maintaining the relationship between the nonrelocating individual and the child, including the effect on parenting time and the cost of exercising visitation
- Whether the relocating individual has a pattern of conduct promoting or interfering with contact between the nonrelocating individuals and the child
- The relocating individual’s reasons for wanting to move
- The nonrelocating individual’s reasons for objecting to the move
- Any other factor affecting the best interests of the child
When an objection is made to a person’s intent to relocate, the relocating individual has the burden to demonstrate that the proposed relocation is/was planned in “good faith and for a legitimate reason.” However, even if the relocating individual can demonstrate that the move was legitimate and made in good faith, the non-relocating individual can still try to block the relocation (while not altering the existing child-related orders) by showing that the move is not in the best interest of the child.
How Do Indiana Courts Interpret “Best Interest of the Child?”
When making decisions related to parenting time and child custody, Indiana courts are always going to make a decision based on the best interest of the child. These determinations are made using Indiana’s best interest of the child checklist, utilizing relevant factors related to the well-being, health, and care of the child. The best interest of the child checklist requires the judge to consider the following:
- The child’s age and gender
- The parents’ wishes
- The child’s preferences, with children 14 years and older receiving more consideration
- The relationship and dynamics between the child and the parents, any siblings, and anyone else with an impact on the child’s best interest
- The adjustment of the child to home, community, and school
- The physical and mental health of all parties
- Any evidence of domestic violence by either parent
- Any evidence of care having been provided by another party
When preparing for a hearing related to an objection of a notice of intent to relocate, it’s important to prepare evidence to present a sound argument regarding the best interest of the child and your parental rights. You’ll need to think about your lifestyle, financial stability, ability to communicate with the other parent, and your personal life, including living arrangements and significant others. You’ll also want to consider who you could bring as witnesses. Ideally, these are people who interact with you, your child and with both of you together, like your child’s babysitters, teachers, family friends, or coaches. These witnesses can testify to the child’s best interest, and ultimately, help argue that your objection to relocation is warranted.
Need to Speak with a Relocation Attorney?
Whether you have to relocate or object to your former partner’s relocation, then it is essential that you have vigilant and knowledgeable counsel by your side. Thankfully, the family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP stand ready to help you understand the law, and advocate for you and on your children’s behalf. We are experienced, hands-on litigators, well-versed in presenting a case in the courtroom. Contact us right away for free consultation by calling 317-857-0160 or completing our online contact form.