REQUIREMENTS FOR PARENTS MOVING WITH CHILDREN AFTER A FINAL CHILD CUSTODY ORDER
Unlike many states, Kansas has only a sparse amount of law on the issue of removing children from the state after the entry of a final child custody order (in divorce or parentage cases). Only one Kansas statute exists that addresses the issue and there are less than ten reported appellate decisions – and those cases leave the decision upon the effect of a parent’s move to the district court hearing any motions that result from that move or proposed move.
The Kansas courts have not indicated whether there is any presumption either in favor of or against removal of a child from the state by one parent without the consent of the other, although many states have done so. Kansas cases and statutes, however, indicate that the court should give weight to continuing regular contact with both parents.
Notice of move.
Kansas statutes require that when a final Kansas child custody order exists that both parents must give to the other parent written notification of any plans to change address not less than thirty days before that move occurs. The statute does not provide that there is any “minimum distance” for the move before the notification is required. In other words, whether a parent moves across the country or across the hall (from one apartment to another), that parent must give notice to the other parent that a move is going to occur. This is required regardless whether the parent moving is the parent with whom a child lives with or a parent who rarely sees the child.
The Notice of Move must be given not less than thirty days before the date on which the move is to occur and must be given in writing. That written notice must be sent to the other parent by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery (not by regular mail, not by hand-delivery, and not by email although that should also be done).
Purpose of Notice Requirement.
Kansas requires that separated parents (with a court ordered parenting plan) give the other parent notice of any intended move for many reasons, including:
First, so that the non-moving parent knows where the child will be in the future;
Second, so that the non-moving parent will know where to pickup and drop off the child before and/or after parenting times;
Third, to encourage open discussion between the parents about the new situations that will confront their children;
Fourth, so that both parents know the school attendance area in which the children will live;
Fifth, so the non-moving parent and the moving parent will be able to work out an agreeable revised parenting plan if needed;
Sixth, to make sure that the parents have been talking and that the non-moving parent is notified of the move in a timely manner.
Seventh, Kansas statutes provide that any move may constitute a “material change of circumstances” allowing the courts to modify an existing parenting plan, including a change of the primary residential parent.
In addition to requiring notice is a parent is planning a change of residence, the statutes also require written notice if one parent plans on taking a child out of state for more than 90 days. Kansas law requires the same written notice as required when a parent changes residence.
The only exception to the requirement that Notice of a move be given is if the parent to whom the notice would be given has been convicted of any crime specified in various articles of the Kansas Criminal Code in which the child is a the victim of the crime.
If a parent proposes to permanently remove the child from the place at which the child has been living, either parent may file a motion with the court to determine the issues involved. If one parent proposes to remove the child’s residence, the same considerations are applied to that decision as to the original determination of custody — what is in the best interests of the child. This is so even if the parties originally included a restriction against removal of the child from the state in a separation agreement approved with the decree of divorce. It is not sufficient for the moving parent to show that that parent’s own interests would be advanced without consideration of the child’s own interests.
Notice of Move Form
We provide a suggested form letter that for use in giving the required notice: Address Change Notification