When a divorced couple shares custody of one or more children, moving out of the state can present several challenges. A parent who wishes to move out of state may need to get consent from the other parent. Also, it’s possible that a child’s consent could be a determinative factor. Here are some important questions and answers about moving a child out of state.

When is consent needed?

Massachusetts statutory law governing removal of a child from the commonwealth applies to situations in which a child has been a Massachusetts resident for five or more years and is subject to the jurisdiction of a probate court. Also, if parents are parties to a court order involving custody or visitation, a parent must seek modification of the order.

What must a parent show a court to obtain permission to move?

A parent wishing to move over another parent’s objection must demonstrate a compelling reason for the move. Examples may include getting a job out of state or marrying an individual who lives out of state. A court must determine that the benefit of the move for the child outweighs the hardship of being unable to see a parent on a regular basis.

What happens if a parent moves without consent?

Moving a child without the consent of his or her other parent could result in legal action and may constitute parental kidnapping. A parent who is unclear about his or her obligation to obtain consent to move should seek guidance so as to avoid a potentially serious problem.