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Divorce & Relocation Family Lawyer in Kansas & Missouri

Kansas City Child Custody and Relocation Law When Moving Out of State

During a divorce, child custody case or legal separation, custody rights and parenting time are awarded based upon your family’s situation at the time the case is completed. If you or your spouse or the other parent of your children have been given an opportunity to relocate or are required to relocate due to military service, remarriage, or a substantial employment promotion and you wish to make plans to move forward, you will have to take the required and court-mandated steps to be permitted or given permission through the court to relocate and move with your children to your planned location. In both, Kansas and Missouri, there is a specific, detailed legal process which you must follow in order to be granted permission to relocate with your children. Whether you are exploring the possibility of moving or your planned relocation is in progress, it is crucial to the process that you consult with legal counsel as soon as possible. There are certain steps and time frames that you must meet in order to be able to relocate. Failure to correctly meet the court-required steps could result in a judge determining that you do not have permission to relocate your children to your new area.

Our Kansas City family law attorneys at Pingel Family Law can provide you with invaluable advice and legal representation. They will provide you necessary advice to keep your family together at the time you need it most.  Call us now at (816) 208-8130.

Kansas and Missouri Child Custody Laws for Relocation

Kansas and Missouri family courts generally prefer to keep both parents living close to one another so that each parent has an opportunity to be involved in children’s lives on a daily basis. However, if one parent is required to relocate due to a job change or promotion, remarriage or for another reason, generally the first step for a parent in seeking the ability to relocate or move out of state is to provide a detailed, written notice to the other parent. There is specific information that must be included and if a parent fails to provide the necessary information, the court will determine that the relocation notice was not statutorily compliant and not permit the relocation.  Specifically, a relocation notice will need to include a detailed summary of the reasons for the planned move, the address of the new area, the date of the move and what the parent is proposing for a new schedule for parenting time. 

If the parents are unable to agree to a relocation and the judge must make the decision, generally a judge will consider the following factors: 

  • The advantages of the proposed move for the child’s needs
  • The disadvantages the proposed move for the child's needs
  • The reason(s) for the parent’s request to relocate
  • The parent's ability to provide frequent contact under a new schedule going forward
  • The child's relationship with both parents and the level of involvement of both parents in the child’s life
  • The educational, health and other opportunities to meet the child’s needs at both locations

There are Times that Life Requires a Move

There are life circumstances that can develop or change such as a job promotion or opportunity you weren’t expecting. With big changes, often you will face big decisions about your family situation. If you are a custodial parent, you are likely wondering how you will address your children’s needs while also trying to pursue new opportunities that life has presented. You probably have many questions. We are here to help you with the details, assist with planning for your future and reduce your stress because when you have a plan to move forward, you can let us worry about the details while you focus on other things.

Am I Even Allowed to Relocate?

The first step in figuring out whether you are permitted to relocate is to follow your state’s statutory requirements in seeking the relocation. There are many detailed legal issues surrounding your plans that must be considered. Ultimately if this issue is brought before a judge, he or she must decide what is in the best interests of your children.

How do I Begin the Process to request to Relocate?

In both Kansas and Missouri, you are required to write a detailed letter to the other parent. The information required must be given with details. Failure to follow the specific requirements of a relocation letter can result in the Court determining you do not have permission to relocate. 

What If My Spouse or My Child’s Other Parent Refuses to Consent to Relocation?

In Missouri, if the other parent does not file an Objection to Relocation then you are able to move. Thus, if you receive a relocation notice from your child’s other parent, it is crucial that  you contact legal counsel immediately if you do not wish for your child to be able to move away from you. In Kansas, if your former spouse does not grant permission for your relocation, you can still file a Motion to Relocate the Minor Child(ren) as you planned. However, you should plan that based upon the controverted nature of the circumstances that the process will take longer as you will need to wait to have a court hearing and determine whether the court grants you permission. 

How Will a Judge Consider My Request to Relocate?

A judge hearing your trial or request to relocate will listen and consider your request to relocate as well as your recommended plan for the other parent to remain a meaningful part of the child’s life. The Judge will consider your former spouse or other parent’s reasons for not supporting the relocation and the ability of the other parent to become the primary custodial parent if you relocate and the children are not permitted to relocate with you. The overriding consideration for the Court is the best interests of your child(ren) in being permitted to relocate or in staying behind with the other parent.

Can I Just Seek to Modify Custody Instead? 

No. Both Missouri and Kansas laws require that a relocation request be brought to the court with a specific request. While a local or nearby move might require a simple change or restructuring of a parenting plan, a more long distance relocation will require the court to determine a large change to the parenting plan, if the relocation is permitted.

Should I Hire an Attorney for this Situation?

Absolutely! Child custody cases are very complex and involve many detailed factors. Relocation cases are often even more complicated as there is less opportunity to find “middle ground.” The children are either permitted to move or not. Once the children are of school age, if the children are living an extended distance from the other parent, there are limited, prescribed times such as summer break, spring break, winter break and other school breaks when the children can visit with the long-distance parent.  Hiring an attorney to ensure you comply with the strict legal requirements of presenting a relocation case is crucial to maximizing the possibility of a favorable outcome for your case. 

If you are facing a potential relocation (or your former spouse or children’s other parent is seeking to relocate) it is crucial that you obtain top-quality legal representation as soon as possible. Contact Pingel Family Law today to get your consultation scheduled and to develop a strategy to address your legal needs. Call (816) 208-8130.


"I have known Attorney Pingel for more than fifteen (15) years. Mandee is a lawyer I consider a respected colleague. She has a reputation for being intelligent, knowledgeable about the law, well-prepared and kind."

- A Lawyer in Liberty, Missouri