Reviewing Massachusetts’ parental relocation laws

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2021 | Uncategorized

While a divorce may seem to bring some degree of relief to a feuding couple in Massachusetts, the proceedings can become contentious (particularly those involving child custody). That contention may not necessarily end at the conclusion of the proceedings, as the couple must then work together to continue rearing the kids. 

One can imagine that any ongoing stresses related to custody matters might only increase should one parent want to move away with the kids. Such a prospect is not outlandish (indeed, according to the website, roughly 10% of American adults relocate every year, with changes in marital status ranking among the top 10 reasons why people move). How, then, can one lawfully pursue a relocation without prejudicing their position in their custody case? 

“The real advantage” test

Per Massachusetts state appellate court rulings, state family courts apply two different perspectives when dealing with parental relocation cases. If a parent who has sole custody of the kids wants to move away, the court applies a standard known as “the real advantage” test. This test looks at the parent’s motive to move, and whether the relocation offers a real advantage to both the parent and the kids. Such an advantage may be for the parent to pursue new career opportunities, or to move the kids closer to extended family members. 

“The best interest” test

When a parent who shares joint custody of their kid with their ex-spouse wants to move away, then the court applies the “best interest” test. This reviews the potential relocation from the perspective of the children, and whether or not the move may be in their best interest. Examples of best interests may be to place the kids in a better school district or to allow the relocating parent to get a job that allows them more time at home.