PA 06-168—sHB 5536

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE RELOCATION OF PARENTS HAVING CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILDREN

SUMMARY: This act requires a divorced parent who relocates or plans to relocate with a child to prove that the relocation is in the child's best interest. Prior binding case law placed the burden on the parent objecting to the move. It also codifies a nonexclusive list of factors family courts must consider when the non-relocating parent seeks to block the move due to its significant impact on an existing parenting plan (i. e. , a court-approved custody and visitation schedule). These considerations are already required by a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2006

BURDEN OF PROOF IN PARENTAL RELOCATION DISPUTES

By law, a relocating parent has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (1) the relocation is for a legitimate purpose and (2) the new location bears a reasonable relationship to that purpose. If those two burdens are met, prior law required the non-relocating parent to prove, again by a preponderance of evidence, that it would not be in the child's best interest. The act requires the relocating parent to prove it is in the child's best interest.

COURT CONSIDERATIONS

Under the act, factors a court must consider in resolving relocation disputes include, at a minimum:

1. each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation;

2. the quality of the child's relationship with each parent;

3. the relocation's impact on the quality and quantity of the child's future contact with the nonrelocating parent;

4. the degree to which the relocation may enhance the relocating parent and child economically, emotionally, and educationally; and

5. the feasibility of making suitable visitation arrangements to preserve the relationship between the child and nonrelocating parent.

BACKGROUND

Related Case

In 1998, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a divorced parent objecting to his ex-spouse's decision to relocate with their child had to prove that the move was not in the child's best interests. The Court also listed factors that judges should consider in resolving these disputes (Ireland v. Ireland, 246 Conn. 413).

OLR Tracking: SP: VR: PF: (tjo)DW