It’s normal to desire a fresh start after ending your marriage. In fact, one of the more common reasons people choose to move in the U.S. is due to a change in marital status. But if you share children with your ex, moving more than a few zip codes away can complicate the process.

Unless you and your ex already laid out relocation terms in your child custody agreement, the state of New Hampshire requires that a parent moving out of state provide written notice to the other parent 60 days before their move. If the other parent opposes the move, they can request a relocation hearing in which the court will determine a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of your child.

How are my child’s best interests determined?

Because every family’s and child’s needs will differ, there is no standard way to define what is in the best interest of a child. However, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the court commonly looks at the following factors when determining best interest:

  • The child’s relationship with their parents, siblings and household members
  • Whether the parent can provide safety and adequate food, clothing and healthcare
  • The mental and physical health needs of both the parent and child
  • Preserving family integrity through keeping families together
  • What the child wants

What happens during a relocation hearing?

If you are the parent who desires to move out of state, the first step will be proving to the court that the reason for your move is legitimate. These reasons could include moving for a job, being closer to extended family or getting remarried.

If deemed legitimate, a judge will then consider all factors relevant to the circumstances of the move and how it will affect child custody. These factors can include:

  • How adjusted the child is to their school and local community?
  • How will the move affect the child’s relationship to extended family?
  • How will the move affect the child’s academics?
  • How will the move affect the child’s emotional and financial well-being?
  • Is it still feasible for the other parent to maintain visitation?
  • Will the move negatively affect the quality and quantity of time spent with the non-moving parent?

If you are planning to relocate, it’s crucial to understand how your move will affect your child custody order. But more importantly, you will want to ensure that your relocation is what’s best for the well-being of your child.