Know the Law: Am I Allowed to Move My Kid to Another Town If My Ex Objects?

July 18, 2016

Published in the Union Leader (7/18/2016)

Q: I am a recently-divorced, single mother of one with primary residential responsibility for my child. I want to move with my child to Portsmouth from Manchester, but my ex-husband doesn’t want me to. What can I do?

A. As divorce rates rise and family models change, these types of issues are becoming increasingly common. When couples who have minor children divorce in New Hampshire, a parenting plan will be part of the divorce. However, situations change: One parent might lose her job and have to move elsewhere for work, while the other parent might meet a new romantic partner and want to move for personal reasons.

Assuming your parenting plan does not specifically address what happens when one parent wants to move, the relocation of a residence of a child is governed by RSA 461-A:12.

The first questions to ask are: Would the move take the children closer to the other parent, or would it keep them within their current school district? If the answer to either question is yes, the parent may move the child. 

If not, the parent may still be able to relocate the child. First, the parent who is seeking to relocate must give reasonable notice to the other parent, which is typically 60 days. Second, the parent must demonstrate a “legitimate purpose” for the move and that the proposed location is reasonable in light of that purpose. This is a broad test, but where a parent wants to move because of a “vindictive desire,” the court may find that the move would serve no legitimate purpose.

Once the relocating parent demonstrates that the move would be reasonable in light of a legitimate purpose, the burden shifts to the parent opposing the move to show that the proposed relocation is not in the best interests of the child. The court will consider several factors, including: 

(1) each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the move; (2) the quality of the relationships between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents; (3) the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the noncustodial parent; (4) the degree to which the custodial parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally, and educationally by the move; and others.

Divorce can be traumatic and complicated, and even more so when children are involved. 

If you or your ex-spouse is trying to move minor children, it is best to seek legal counsel for advice and recommendations on how to proceed.

Henry Klementowicz can be reached at

Know the Law is a bi-weekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton, Professional Association. We invite your questions of business law. Questions and ideas for future columns should be addressed to: McLane Middleton, 900 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101 or emailed to Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.