In all divorce settlement agreements involving children, there is a part of the Alabama statute that is generally copied into the agreement called the Alabama Relocation Act. It basically states how you are to proceed and the steps you are to take if you are going to move a long distance from the other parent. If you are moving 60 miles or more away, then you must basically give notice to the other parent within 45 days of the move, or 10 days after learning of the move if later. Your divorce attorney should explain all of this to you when the case is filed, but this is the statutory rule concerning such changes in address when visitation is concerned.
The notice should include the contact information at the new address such as phone number and physical address, as well as the contact information of the new school the child will be at. You must also notify of the date of the move and the reason for the move, along with a new visitation arrangement. The other party has 30 days to object or the move will generally be permitted. If the parent objects, the court may order that the move cannot take place until a hearing occurs where the judge will evaluate whether the proposed move is in the best interest of the child or not.
In determining whether it is in the best interest of the child to move, the judge will use factors such as how often visitation was actually exercised in the past and the age of the child. If the non-custodial parent has not regularly exercised the visitation that he/she has already and the child is in high school or junior high school, then it might be in the best interest of the child to move to the new location if there are certain advantages to the move.
There is a presumption that the move is not in the best interest of the child (except in the case of domestic violence), since it disrupts the stability of the child and other such factors. If the parent can show the benefits to moving to the new residence and rebut this presumption, then the burden goes to the non-custodial parent to explain why the child should stay and not be allowed to make the move. If the non-custodial parent is successful, then the judge can even alter the child custody arrangement by granting the non-custodial parent custody if the move would not be in the best interest of the child.
Below is the language that is in Alabama Code §30-3-166 explaining how to give proper notice and the procedures for relocation:
Alabama law now requires each party to an action who has either custody of or the right of visitation with the child of any change in his or her address or telephone number, or both, and of any change or proposed change of principal residence and telephone number or numbers of a child. The provisions of this act shall not apply to a change of principal residence of a child to a residence that is 60 miles or less from the residence of a non-locating parent, unless such change results in the child living in a different state. This is a continuing duty and remains in effect as to each child subject to the custody or visitation provisions of this or any decrees entered by this court until such child reaches the age of majority or becomes emancipated and for so long as either party is entitled to custody of or visitation with a child covered by orders entered by this court. If there is to be a change of principal residence by either party or by a child subject to custody or visitation provisions of any orders issued by this court, you must provide the following information to each other person who has custody or visitation rights under this decree as follows:
(a) The intended new residence, including the specific street address, if known.
(b) The mailing address, if not the same as the street address.
(c) The telephone number or numbers at such residence, if known.
(d) If applicable – the name, address and telephone number of the school to be attended by a child, if known.
(e) The date of the intended change of principal residence of a child.
(f) A statement of the specific reasons for the proposed change of principal residence of a child, if applicable.
(g) A proposal for a revised schedule of custody of or visitation with a child, if any.
(h) A warning to the non-locating person that an objection to the relocation must be made within 30 days of receipt of the notice or the relocation will be permitted.
(i) Unless a member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America and are being transferred or relocated pursuant to a non-voluntary order of the government, a warning to the non-locating person that an objection to the relocation must be made within 30 days of receipt of the notice or the relocation will be permitted.
Notice must be given by certified mail of the proposed change of principal residence on or before the 45th day before a proposed change of principal residence. If you do not know and cannot reasonably become aware of such information in sufficient time to provide a 45 day notice, you must give such notice by certified mail not later than the 10th day after the date that you obtain such information.
If the non-locating party does not commence an action seeking a temporary or permanent order to prevent the change of principal residence of a child within 30 days after receipt of notice of the intent to change the principal residence of a child, the change of principal residence is authorized.