If you share physical custody of your child with another parent after a divorce or separation, there may come a time when you think about moving to a new area. Whether you’re eager for a fresh start or your employer is requiring you to relocate, it’s important to consider how this kind of change could impact your visitation agreement.

Assuming you intend to move relatively far away from the other parent, you may need to obtain approval from the court first. If the court decides your proposed move will make it impossible to keep up with your current custody arrangement, you may need to request a modification. However, you typically need to provide a compelling reason for a judge to modify an existing order. If the move is not in your child’s best interests, the court has the authority to deny your request to relocate.

If you wish to file a petition for relocation in Iowa, it’s best to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney before you take action. At Arenson Law Group, PC, our experienced lawyers can review your case and outline your legal options in an initial consultation. Call us at (319) 363-8199 or contact us online to learn more.

Relocation and Visitation Agreements in Iowa

If a parent in the state of Iowa wishes to move their children to a residence that is more than 150 miles away from the child’s court-ordered residence, they are required to obtain permission first. If the parent seeking to relocate cannot get permission from the other parent, they can submit a petition to relocate in court.

When family law judges hear child custody cases involving relocation disputes, they review all available evidence and listen to testimony from both parents. The burden of proof typically rests with the parent wishing to move, who must demonstrate that the move is necessary due to a change in circumstances and that the move is in the best interests of the children.

After the hearing has concluded, the judge will issue an order based on their decision to approve or deny the relocation. If the petition to move is successful, the judge may also order adjustments to custody and visitation arrangements accordingly.

Is the Move in the Child’s Best Interests?

The most important matter in all child custody and visitation arrangements is whether the arrangement is in the child’s best interests. When judges determine whether a parent’s relocation is suitable for a child, they will consider the following factors:

  • The suitability of each parent as a custodian of the child
  • The emotional, social, and psychological needs of the child
  • Whether the child will suffer if they don’t have contact with both parents
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to communicate with the other parent about the needs of the child
  • Whether each parent actively participated in caring for the child before, during, and after separation or divorce
  • Whether each parent will support the other parent in maintaining a relationship with the child
  • Whether each parent agrees or objects to shared custody or visitation
  • The geographic location of each of the parents
  • Whether a shared custody or unrestricted visitation arrangement could place the safety of the child or either parent in jeopardy
  • Whether there has been a history of domestic abuse
  • The child’s wishes or objections, which are weighted based on the child’s age and level of maturity

What Happens If the Court Grants My Request to Relocate?

If the court decides to approve your request to relocate, you may have to fulfill certain obligations as a result. For example, you may be expected to:

  • Propose a new visitation schedule, outlining where and when visitation will be allowed with the noncustodial parent after the move. You may need to include special provisions for visitation during holidays or extended break periods.
  • Request a formal modification of the existing child custody or visitation order, if significant changes are required.
  • Determine the best method for your child to continue spending time with you and pay for all or a portion of the costs of their transportation.

Contact an Iowa Family Law Attorney Today

In many cases, moving for a job is the best option for you, but it’s important to think about how relocating could affect your family. If you are planning or considering a move, contact the dedicated Cedar Rapids family law attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC to learn more about how we can help.

Call us today at (319) 363-8199 or fill out our online contact form to get started with your initial case review.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : January 20, 2023