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Can you relocate if you have sole custody?

Relocating with joint custody is often difficult. If you move 500 miles away and take the child with you, it violates the other parent's right to continue to see the child. This can be very frustrating for parents who want to move back to be closer to family or need to move for a new job.

However, what if you have sole custody? You get to make all legal decisions for your child and the child lives with you 100 percent of the time. When deciding where you want the child to get medical care or go to school, for example, you don't need to have your ex sign off on the move. You don't have to ask permission. Does this mean you can also relocate whenever you want -- and wherever you want -- without asking your ex?

It may. If your ex has absolutely no rights to see the child anyway -- perhaps the whole reason for the divorce was abuse, and you wanted sole custody to keep your child safe -- that makes it much easier to move.

However, even if you have sole custody, your ex may still have visitation rights. This means he or she gets to see the child, typically in a controlled setting and perhaps just at your house. These rights may seem less important than custody rights to you, but they're still legal rights that could be violated if you move and then your ex can't visit at the appointed times.

When this happens, the court may need to step in and decide how to proceed. Don't simply relocate and assume it's legal. Make sure you know your rights and what legal steps actually have to be taken.

Source: FIndLaw, "Sole Custody," accessed Feb. 23, 2017

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