On September 1, 2003, Alabama passed a law, entitled the Alabama Parent-Child Relationship Act (the Act), that addressed the relocation of parents after a divorce. The purpose of the law is to promote the relationship of the parent and child. The law requires divorced parents, who plan to move beyond a specified distance, to provide the other parent proper notice. Should proper notice not be provided, the Court can consider that fact in a custody modification case.
If you are a divorced parent this law affects you….
When Notice of a Move is Required
- If you are moving to a distance or location more than sixty (60) miles from the non-relocating parents’ address, unless the move brings the children closer to the non-relocating, you must provide notice.
- Notice is required to be provided to the non-relocating no later than forty-five (45) days prior to the move, or at least within ten (10) days after learning of the move, if later.
- Notice is required to be in writing and provided to the non-relocating by certified mail.
- Notice must include:
- The address and phone number of the new residence;
- The address and phone number of the child’s new school;
- The date of the move;
- The specific reason for the move;
- A proposal for a modified custody and parenting time schedule; and
- A warning that the non-relocating must object to the move within thirty (30) days or the move will be permitted.
- If any of the above information is missing or unknown at the time the notice is sent, then the relocating parent must supply the information as soon as it is available.
What Happens Next?
Once the non-relocating receives notice of the relocation, they have thirty (30) days to file an objection with the court. The Court, upon the non-relocating parents objection, could delay the relocation until after a hearing.
What to Expect at the Hearing?
At the hearing, the judge will evaluate whether the move is in the best interest of the child. The court will look at the reason for the relocating parent’s move, how it will affect the child, how it will affect the relationship with the non-relocating parent, how it will impact parenting time, etc. Unless there is a finding of domestic violence, the statute sets up a rebuttable assumption that the move is not in the best interest of the child. The burden is on the relocating parent to show how the move will benefit the child and promote the child’s best interest.
What if there is Domestic Violence?
Alabama law recognizes a disclosure exception to the Act when there is a finding of domestic violence. Pursuant to Ala. Code § 30-3-167, an issuance of the Final Protection from Abuse Order, “shall be considered prima facie evidence that the health, safety, or liberty of a person or a child would be unreasonably put at risk by the disclosure of identifying information or by compliance with the notice requirement.” The Court may waive the notice requirement if there is a finding of domestic violence and the Court determines that disclosing the information required under the notice provision of the Act could place the relocating parent and the child in unreasonable risk for harm.
What if I am a Service Member?
If you are a Service Member in the Armed Forces of the United States of America and are being transferred or relocated pursuant to a non-voluntary order of the government you still have to comply with the above notice provisions, but do not have to include the warning to the non-relocating parent that an objection must be made within thirty (30) days of the notice.
After a divorce, circumstances can change. A relocation is a substantial change in circumstances which will typically require a change in custody and/or parenting time. Call our office today at 334-523-0661 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation.