Child Custody and Relocation of a Child’s Principal Residence

Information provided on this page is for educational use only. Accessing this page does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship, and the information provided should not be regarded as legal advice. Laws of the State of Missouri are subject to change, and there is no warranty, express or implied, that the information included on this page is still accurate at the time of access. Please consult a licensed Attorney to discuss the specifics of any legal matter. Attorneys at Cline, Braddock & Basinger can be reached at (573) 443-6244

State of the Law

Under Missouri law certain restrictions are placed on a parent who wishes to relocate his or her principal residence following an order of divorce, custody, or paternity. A parent who has custody of his or her child subject to a prior divorce, custody, or paternity order is required to provide written notice to the other parent before relocation of the child’s principal residence.  This requirement is found in Missouri Statute (See 452.377 RSMo.) as well as the language contained in any Missouri order concerning divorce, custody, or paternity. Failure to provide the proper written notice may result in the court to modifying the prior custody decree, and/or punishing the relocating parent for contempt.

Following written notice of a proposed relocation the parent may relocate the principal residence of the child after sixty (60) days if no objection from the other parent is received. If the other parent files a timely objection to the relocation the court which entered the original order for for divorce, custody, or paternity will resume jurisdiction and make a determination whether to allow the relocation of the child’s residence.

Requirements of Written Notice

Before a parent may relocate the principal residence of a child subject to a divorce, custody, or paternity order written notice must be sent to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested at least sixty (60) days prior to the proposed relocation. Such written notice must contain:

  1. The intended new residence, including the specific address and mailing address, if known, and if not known, the city;
  2. The home telephone number of the new residence, if known;
  3. The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;
  4. A brief statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of a child, if applicable; and
  5. A proposal for a revised schedule of custody or visitation with the child, if applicable.

If a parent relocates the principal residence of a child without providing proper written notice, the other parent may be entitled to a modification of the prior custody order. Additionally, the prior court order of divorce, custody, or paternity requires proper written notice prior to relocation, and a failure to provide such notice may be grounds for contempt of court.

Objections to Relocation

If no objection to relocation is received within thirty (30) days of receipt of proper written notice, the principal residence of the child may then be relocated sixty (60) days after written notice was provided. A parent wishing to contest relocation of a child’s principal residence must move quickly to file a valid motion seeking an order to prevent the relocation. Such motion should be filed in the court which issued the order of divorce, custody, or paternity, and must be accompanied by a proper affidavit.

If a motion seeking an order to prevent relocation is filed within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice for relocation, then the principal residence of the child may not be relocated unless and/or until a hearing before the court. At this hearing the court will make a determination whether the move is made in good faith and is in the best interest of the child. The burden of proof during this hearing is on the party seeking a relocation.

Following the court hearing on relocation, the judge will issue an order either denying the relocation and continuing the prior divorce, custody, or paternity order in full force and effect as previously issued, or granting the relocation and ordering a modified custody order and parenting plan to account for changes in times and durations of visitation following the relocation.

Your Legal Rights

Remember: You have a right to the assistance of an attorney during the possible relocation of a child’s residence! Attorneys at Cline, Braddock & Basinger are ready to assist you. It is our hope that you find these materials useful. When you are ready, contact our offices to schedule a free appointment!

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