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Once the dust settles after a divorce and both parents settle into the parenting plan, it is easy to become accustomed to the new routine. This routine, unfortunately, may not always stay the same. Opportunities come and go and some opportunities may give one parent the choice to leave Massachusetts. What happens if the custodial parent wants to relocate out of state? 

During the divorce and custody proceedings, parents may hash out a parenting plan that works for all parties. This does not mean, however, that it cannot undergo modifications in the future. Parents can request to relocate. 

Can a custodial parent leave with the child? 

The custodial parent cannot simply pack up his or her belongings and cross state lines with the child. A parent, according to the Massachusetts Legislature, cannot remove a native child or one who resided in the state for five years without the consent of both parents. If one parent wishes to move, he or she must give a good reason for why the move is in the child’s leading interests. He or she cannot move the child out of state if it is out of vengeance or an attempt to deny the other parent of his or her rights. 

Legitimate reasons to move a child out of state include new job opportunities or a marriage with someone out of state. 

Can the noncustodial parent intervene? 

The noncustodial parent can protest another parent leaving the state. It is within his or her rights to voice concerns about the relocation. Any order must allow the noncustodial parent to continue to have access to the child. This means that if the judge orders that the child can leave the state, the parents must agree on a new parenting arrangement. It is ultimately up to the judge to decide if a child can leave if one parent contests the relocation.