January 10, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Massachusetts Law Regarding Moving Out-of-State With Your Children
In this fast-paced modern world, it is an unfortunate reality that families are broken up by events such as job relocations or divorce. Often this means that children must move and make a new home outside of the commonwealth.
Despite the common occurrence of this arrangement, there are laws in Massachusetts that govern the removal of minor children from the Commonwealth. It is therefore important for Massachusetts parents, whether divorced or married, who are considering taking their child with them to live outside the Commonwealth to make themselves aware of the law's requirements.
If the parents of the minor child are divorced, Massachusetts law is fairly clear. Under Massachusetts statutes, if the child is a native of Massachusetts or had lived within the Commonwealth for five years, neither parent can remove the child outside the Commonwealth without the other parent's consent.
If the other parent does not consent to the child's removal from the Commonwealth, the parent wishing to take the child outside of the Commonwealth can ask a court for permission. However, a court will only grant permission if the parent can show sufficient reasons why the child should be allowed to be removed from the commonwealth.
In deciding whether the reasons for removal are sufficient, the court generally determines if the removal of the child from the Commonwealth is in the child's best interests. In other words, among many things, the court considers how living in another state will affect the child and his or her quality of life as well as the possible adverse effect on the child caused by his or her separation from the parent remaining in Massachusetts.
As in other court cases, the parent opposing the removal of the child has an opportunity to show that the removal of the child would not be in the child's best interest. After considering both sides, if the court finds that the child's proposed move outside the Commonwealth is in his or her best interests, it may grant the parent permission to take the child to another state.
The law about removal of children from the Commonwealth is less clear when the parents are unmarried. Although there is no legal requirement that both parents give consent to the removal of the child, Massachusetts law says that "children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the rights and protections of the law as all other children." It is therefore advisable that a parent in this situation wishing to take a child from the Commonwealth get permission -- either the other parent's or court's -- before taking the child.
In general, married parents share custody of their children and do not need permission of the other parent to remove the child to live in another state. However, as shared custody means that both parents have an equal right to share in making decisions affecting their children, the removal might interfere with the other parent's custody rights. This can cause problems later on if the parents decide to get a divorce, as it may cause the non-removing parent to be awarded custody of the child, because of the previous violation of custody rights by the other parent.
Consult an Attorney
As the possible repercussions resulting from the removal of a minor child can be severe, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Since the law is complicated on how it would affect a given situation, if you are considering removing your minor child from the Commonwealth it is a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can advise you of how the law applies to your personal situation and work to minimize the risk of negative repercussions.
Article provided by Thomas F. Williams & Associates, P.C.
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