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Note: A Flexible Solution to a Knotty Problem: The Best Interests of the Child Standard in Relocation Disputes


In the past two decades many United States jurisdictions have adopted statutes promoting joint legal custody, shared parental responsibility, and continuing contact with both parents following separation and divorce. However, our society has become increasingly mobile, as Americans move, on average, once every seven years. Americans relocate for various reasons, but when parents move they expect to take their children with them. As a result, when one parent petitions the court to relocate, the court, in evaluating and weighing the paramount interests of the child, is forced to confront the competing interests of the relocating and nonrelocating parent. This paper focuses on the dilemma courts face when the relocating parent is the custodial parent and the parent opposing relocation is the noncustodial parent. The custodial parent seeking to relocate frequently has an interest in beginning a new life elsewhere in the United States to pursue better educational, personal, and career opportunities, whereas the noncustodial parent possesses a strong desire to maintain frequent and regular contact with his or her child.