If you have been involved in a New Hampshire Divorce, or Parenting Petition case, and now want to relocate with your child, you will need to follow the statutory steps laid out in NH RSA 461-A:12. This is the “Relocation of a Residence of a Child” statute.
WHO DOES THIS LAW APPLY TO?
This statute apples any time after the filing of a parenting petition or a divorce petition. However, the statute does not apply if the relocation results in the child’s residence being closer to the other parent - or to any location within the child's current school district.
This statute only applies to a parent seeking to relocate the residence in which a child resides at least 150 days a year. The statute mandates that a parent shall not relocate a child without a court order allowing them to do so, unless the relocation is necessary to protect the safety of the parent or child, or both.
The statute requires that prior to relocating, the parent moving shall provide reasonable notice to the other parent. For purposes of this section, except for specific emergency circumstances, 60 days notice is deemed to be presumed to be reasonable. And, at the request of either parent, the court will hold an expedited hearing on the relocation issue.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO PROVE IN COURT?
The parent seeking permission to relocate with the child bears the initial burden of demonstrating, by a preponderance of the evidence, that:
(a) The relocation is for a legitimate purpose; and
(b) The proposed location is reasonable in light of that purpose.
This may sound like a very easy legal standard to meet, but don’t be fooled, it is extremely difficult. A “legitimate purpose” is an elusive phrase that fools so many. For example, your boyfriend is offered his dream job, in Florida. That’s certainly a “legitimate purpose”…right? Unfortunately, the Court would most likely not find this to be a “legitimate purpose” sufficient enough to allow a parent to take the child away from the other parent.
I know what you are thinking, suppose it’s not a boyfriend, suppose the other parent gets offer a great high paying job in Florida – would that meet the legal standard of a “legitimate purpose”? Well, even if it did meet that prong of the two-part test, it may not pass the second part of the test where the moving parent would have to show that the “proposed location is reasonable in light of that purpose.” This is because, every state offers considerable, and often identical, employment opportunities. So, it may not be necessary to relocate the child away from the other parent in order for that parent to find similar and suitable employment here in New Hampshire.
WHAT DOES THE OTHER PARENT HAVE TO PROVE?
If the relocating parent is able to meet this statutory burden of proof, the burden then shifts to the other parent to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the child.
WHERE DO I FIND THIS STATUTE?
To review NH RSA 461-A:12 simply CLICK HERE.
If you find yourself facing a child relocation issue, please reach out to an Attorney who focuses their practice in the area of Divorce & Family Law.
To contact a New Hampshire Divorce & Family Law Attorney, please CLICK HERE or Call (603) 225-1114.
Jeffrey A. Runge, Esquire
Family Legal Services, P.C.
Bio: CLICK HERE
AVVO: CLICK HERE
Direct Telephone: (603) 225-1135