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Oklahoma Relocations: Can a Parent Take Off With the Kids?

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Oklahoma Fathers' Rights Divorce and Custody Blog

So, you have been to court, and you now have a visitation order. You finally have set in stone a schedule, and your time with the child is no longer at the mercy of the other parent. But, out of the blue, you learn the other parent is planning to take the kids and move across the county. What do you do?

The Relocation Statute

In Oklahoma, we have a relocation statute, 43 O.S. § 112.3. While I won’t go so far as to say that there is protection from a move, there is at least a procedure that must be followed, and you have the right to object and request a hearing.

If a parent wants to move more than seventy file miles, that parent must provide written notice. That written notice must provide the following information:

You Must File an Objection

If you receive a relocation notice, it is critical that you file your written objection and request a hearing within the allowed time. A failure to timely object can allow the other parent to move without further notice. Don’t wait until the last minute to act. As soon as you receive a relocation notice contact an attorney.

The paper in the court file is only about 10% of what’s involved in presenting a case in court.

I Filed an Objection, Now What?

Assuming you have hired an attorney and properly objected, the court will conduct a hearing.  At the hearing, the court will consider the following factors:

The relocating person has the burden of proof that the proposed relocation is made in good faith. If that burden of proof is met, the burden shifts to the nonrelocating person to show that the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the child.

What if I Have Custody and I want to Relocate?

As explained above, the proper procedure must be followed. A failure to follow the proper procedure can result in a failed relocation case. If you have custody and would like to relocate, consult with an attorney BEFORE making a final decision to relocate. Proper planning and strategy on the front end may limit the potential of a train wreck later. My opinion is that relocations were easier years ago. I think it is harder now to relocate than it used to be. However, it always boils down to the specific facts of the case.

Conclusion

If you are the relocating parent make sure you follow the proper procedure. Relocation language is included in every Oklahoma Custody order. If you are the parent receiving the notice, make sure you file an objection. However, you should never attempt either of these things without first hiring an attorney. As with all things legal, it’s never as simple as filling out the magic form. The paper in the court file is only about 10% of what’s involved in presenting a case. The other 90% is knowing how to properly prepare, organize, and argue the case in court.

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