Courts are well aware that it serves children to have a continuous relationship with both parents after a separation or divorce. The dissolution of the family unit may be a harsh disruption for a child, so even when a court awards primary custody to one parent, they also try to grant as much visitation as possible while considering the best interests of the child.
Maximizing visitation with a noncustodial parent is more challenging when a custodial parent wants to relocate out of state. If you are a parent facing this possibility, it is important to know your legal rights and to consider your options for maintaining contact with your out of state child.
Court Authorization Required
If there is a child custody order in place, it may contain geographic restrictions that limit how far a custodial parent can move with the child. Regardless, a custodial parent cannot interfere with the other parent’s court-ordered visitation rights by relocating. Depending on the circumstances, this type of action may constitute a serious criminal act.
If a court approves relocation out of state, then it must re-examine the noncustodial parent’s visitation and access, as the distance and travel costs make the prior arrangements unrealistic. A possible custody arrangement that may come from this includes extended summer visitation and visits on extended school breaks.
Maintaining Contact Via Electronic Communication
Noncustodial parents in another state need more than in-person visits to maintain a relationship with their children. To this end, North Carolina’s child custody statute allows courts to order a parent to have “electronic communication” with their children. The law envisions this to include “contact, other than face-to-face contact, facilitated by electronic means, such as by telephone, electronic mail, instant messaging, video teleconferencing, wired or wireless technologies by Internet, or other medium of communication.”
In deciding the type, allocation of costs, timing, and duration of this communication, courts must consider:
- Whether this communication is in the child’s best interest;
- Whether the equipment necessary for this communication is “available, accessible, and affordable” to the parents; and
- “Any other factor the court deems appropriate in determining whether to grant visitation by electronic communication.”
Notably, this electronic communication is designed to supplement visitation between children and noncustodial parents. However, it is not meant as a replacement for face-to-face visitation. It should be used as a means to help maintain and grow the parent/child relationship during the times they are apart.
New Direction Family Law
When it comes to the custody of your children, the stakes cannot be higher. At New Direction Family Law, we understand this and appreciate the gravity of this moment in the lives of our clients. We, therefore, utilize all of our experience, knowledge, and resources to fight for the parental rights of our clients. If you want an attorney who will listen to you, provide you with honest answers, and stand by you, contact us. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or contact us at our website.