Moving to another state and leaving our Minnesota winters behind can be an exciting change, but, if your move includes your child that you share with a parent you’re not married to, please be careful before making the move. If you choose to move your child without the consent of the other parent and without permission from a Judge, then you might be in some trouble.
REVERSING CUSTODY WHEN CHILD MOVES OUT OF STATE
Unless you work with that other parent to ensure his/her parenting time remains intact after you move, the Judge might conclude that you’ve interfered with the other parent’s parenting time. That can be very bad, because in Minnesota, interference with parenting time can be a reason for a Judge to reverse a custody order. Minn. Stat. §518.175 subd 6(h).
If you are accused of interfering with the other parent’s parenting time, there is a risk of losing custody, but, before the Judge goes that far, the Judge must first agree that other stuff has happened in addition to your out-of-state move. Grein v. Grein, 364 N.W.2nd 383, 386 (Minn. 1985).
Before a Judge sends your child to live with the other parent, the Judge will need to believe that your move messed up the other parent’s parenting time, but also has to believe:
- Your move is something that wasn’t contemplated when you created the parenting time schedule;
- Your child’s best interests are served by changing custody;
- Your children’s emotional or physical health or development is endangered by remaining in your care; and
- The benefits tor your child moving into the other parents’ home outweigh the detriment caused by moving out of yours.
Minnesota courts have taken instruction from the legislature, and come up the four (4) questions above, to help determine whether to change the child’s residence. Normally, the Courts won’t change a thing unless there are actual adverse effects on the child, caused by the child’s moving away. Dabill v. Dabill, 514 N.W.2d 590, 596 (Minn. App., 1994).
‘ADVERSE EFFECTS’ OF MESSING WITH PARENTING TIME
But ‘adverse effects’, can mean alot of things; for instance, losing a good chunk of time with Mom because Dad moved Junior to New Hampshire, and the harm that may result if Junior’s preference to spend time with Mom in Minnesota is disregarded. Minn.Stat. § 518.17 subd. 1(a)(3) (‘best interests’ factor that considers a child’s preference). Minnesota courts have found that “Denial of access to a parent and efforts to paint a parent in a poor light have the potential to endanger a child’s emotional health or impair his emotional development.” Newstrand v. Arend, 869 N.W.2d 681, 691 (Minn. App. 2015) (citing Grein v. Grein, 364 N.W.2d 383, 385-86 (Minn. 1985)); Clark v. Bullard, 396 N.W.2d 41, 44 (Minn. App. 1986) (“[T]he child was harmed by being denied visitation with his father for six months.”); see also Meier v. Connelly, 378 N.W.2d 812, 815-16 (Minn. App. 1985) (holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by ordering supervised visitation until husband posted bond to ensure return of child from unsupervised visitation when husband had consistently denied mother access to the child). Newstrand v. Arend, 869 N.W.2d 681, 692 (Minn. App., 2015) (upholding finding of endangerment to child’s emotional health or impairment to emotional development where parent engaged in ‘campaign of alienation’ against child’s relationship with the other parent). In each of these cases the Court of Appeals upheld the finding that messing with another parent’s time with your child, is harmful to the child.
So be careful that you are doing your child right by leaving Minnesota with him/her, especially if that move is going to affect the child’s relationship with the other parent. You don’t want to have a life event like this affect your right to spend time with your child. The attorneys at Beyer & Simonson can help answer questions like this, when life happens.
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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.