Out of State Moves
- by Eric C. Nelson, Attorney

Pursuant to statute, if the other parent has been awarded parenting time, you may not move the residence of the children out of state without:
  1. Agreement of the other party; or
  2. Court Order. [1]
Except in cases of domestic abuse, the burden of proof rests with the parent requesting to move the child out of state, to prove that the move would be in the child’s best interests. [2]

In determining the best interests of the child in the context of proposed out-of-state relocations, the Court considers the following non-exclusive list of factors: [3]

(1) the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child's relationship with the person proposing to relocate and with the nonrelocating person, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life;

(2) the age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child's physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration special needs of the child;

(3) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating person and the child through suitable parenting time arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties;

(4) the child's preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child;

(5) whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the person seeking the relocation either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the nonrelocating person;

(6) whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of the life for both the custodial parent seeking the relocation and the child including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity;

(7) the reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation; and

(8) the effect on the safety and welfare of the child, or of the parent requesting to move the child's residence, of domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01.

There is an exception to these rules where the other parent has not been granted any parenting time in the divorce decree, in which case you do not need his or her permission or a court order in order to move the children out of state.

Likewise, if you are the mother of a child born out of wedlock, and no custody order has ever issued, you do not need the father’s permission or a court order in order to move the children out of state. (Although it may not be strategically wise to do so, especially if the father has exercised regular contact).

Grounds which the courts in the past have recognized as valid reasons to permit out-of-state relocation are: a better job opportunity in the other state; [4] and joining a fiancé who resides in another state. [5] These reasons do not guarantee that permission will be granted, but they have been recognized as legitimate grounds for seeking such permission.

Moving a child out of state is a decision requiring a lot of strategic planning. Ideally, you should contact an attorney several months before your intended departure date.

Lastly, I would observe that although the statute does not specifically address proposed out-of-country moves, the same considerations that apply for out-of-state moves will obviously apply for proposed out-of-country moves as well.

  1. Minnesota Statute section 518.175, Subd. 3(a).
  2. Minnesota Statute section 518.175, Subd. 3(c).
  3. Minnesota Statute section 518.175, Subd. 3(b).
  4. E.g. Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639 (Minn. 1996).
  5. E.g. Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639 (Minn. 1996); Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203 (Minn. 1988); Meyer v. Meyer, 346 N.W.2d 369 (Minn.Ct.App. 1984).