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Mother’s Request to Move from Rhode Island with Child Denied by State Courts

When parents split up, custody and care of the children becomes an extremely important issue to resolve. Although some couples agree on custody, visitation, and support conditions for their co-parenting arrangement, court orders memorializing an enforceable agreement are usually necessary to ensure each party is held accountable to uphold their part of an agreement. Stipulated custody agreements that are reduced to an enforceable court order may later be modified by a separate petition or motion, which may bring parties back into court after a custody case appears to be resolved. The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently affirmed a state family court ruling that denied a mother’s request to relocate to Florida with the parties’ child.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff in the recently decided case is the father of a child that he shares with the defendant. The parties were never married, but after they broke up, the plaintiff sought court orders to allow him visitation and partial custody of his child. After a trial, the plaintiff was granted partial custody and visitation with the child. After the entry of the custody orders, the defendant has since filed a motion with the court asking her to be allowed to relocate to Florida with the child. Rhode Island law requires that relocation by one parent against the wishes of the other parent can only be permitted if a court determines that the relocation would be in the best interest of the child.

The defendant argued that relocating was in the best interest of the child because she was struggling to raise her children as a single mother (she had another child from a previous relationship), and her mother would be available to help in Florida. Additionally, she had been offered a job in Florida. The family court evaluated the parties’ arguments and denied the mother’s motion. Specifically, the family court judge found that the mother failed to demonstrate how the relocation would be in the child’s best interest.

The mother appealed the ruling to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, where the lower ruling was affirmed. The high court found that the family court had properly applied the law to the facts of this case, and accepted the ruling that the child’s best interest would be better served if the mother was not permitted to relocate with the child. As a result of the appellate ruling, the defendant will not be permitted to move with the child to Florida.

Are You Considering Moving Out of State with Your Child?

If you or a loved one has been given an opportunity to move out of the state with your child and pursue a better life, obtaining permission for the relocation can be an uphill battle. Without the consent of the other parent, Rhode Island courts are hesitant to allow the primary custodian to leave the state with the child without a compelling reason to do so. If you are looking to move, it is essential to have all your ducks in a row before asking the court for approval. The experienced Rhode Island family law attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo have successfully argued for relocation in the past, and with our advocacy, we can demonstrate to a court that your proposed move will be in the best interest of your child. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Rhode Island real estate attorney by calling 401-300-4055.

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