Alabama Relocation – When To Give Notice

Alabama has succumbed more than any other to the Father’s Rights power complex, and it has the most restrictive relocation statute in the nation. How does its notice provision work? Let’s take a look. Today we’ll explore when to give the notice. Tomorrow we’ll think through who must give the notice and how to respond to it.

Ala. Code §30-3-165 requires the person giving the notice to provide it

not later than the 45th day before the date of the intended change of the principal residence of a child or the 10th day after the date such information required to be furnished by [the atatute] becomes known, if the person did not know and could not reasonably have known the information in sufficient time to comply with the 45-day notice, and it is not reasonably possible to extend the time for change of principal residence of the child.

So if the parent knows of the move at least 45 days in advance (and most of us do), he or she must give the notice at least 45 days before the move. Only if the parent learns of the move less than 45 days in advance does the other language have any relevance. So let’s say the parent learns of the move 20 days before it is to happen. The first question is whether it’s reasonably possible to extend the time the child moves. In many cases it will be. Only if it If it is not reasonably possible to extend the time for the child’s move is the notifying parent authorized to provide the notice less than 45 days in advance of the child’s move. Even then, the notice must occur within 10 days after learning about the move.

What if the parent wants to give the notice much sooner, so all litigation is finished before the parent must move? The statute seems to permit this. Note that the statute says the notice must be “not later than the 45th day” before the move. There’s no limitation on how early it can occur. So if the CP notifies the NCP of a move a year in advance with all the required information (new address and phone number, suggestions for revision of schedule, and a warning about the notice means – full list at Ala. Code §30-3-165(b)), and if the NCP makes no objection within 30 days, the CP can plan the move secure in the knowledge that it complies with the relocation statute.

What if the CP knows a move is to occur a year in advance but doesn’t yet know all the required information? Can he or she give the notice before all the information is known? The statute clearly authorizes and even encourages this. Before listing the required information, Ala Code §30-3-165(b) says that all the information must be included if available. When a parent must omit information because it’s not available, §30-3-165(d) imposes on that parent a continuing duty to update the other parent within 10 days after the information becomes known and by certified mail. So the more information is missing from the original notice, the more follow-up notices the parent will be sending.

Of course, the whole idea of providing the notice early is to force the NCP to fish or cut bait. So is there a risk that the NCP will have another 30 days to object each time the CP updates the notice? The statute doesn’t say so. Ala Code §30-3-169 says the CP may change the child’s residence unless the NCP files to stop the move “within 30 days after receipt of such notice.” It says nothing of extending the time to object until all required information is disclosed.

Even though a CP can give the notice before all information is known, it stands to reason that a notice could be so incomplete that a judge might find it not meaningful. For an obvious (and unrealistic) example, one could imagine a notice that simply announces a move at some point in the future without any specifics as to location or even general direction. One would expect most judges to find that notice ineffective.

So a CP who wants to give the notice but who does not yet know all required information should follow a simple maxim that makes many lawyers uncomfortable: err on the side of giving too much information. Perhaps you know that you’re moving to Chicago but don’t yet know your new address or phone number. Instead of simply saying “Unknown” for the address, say something like “I understand that the best values in real estate close to my new job are in the Western suburbs, so that’s where I will be looking first. The real estate agent I have selected has her office in Belvidere but seems really high on Roscoe and Loves Park. I’ll let you know as soon as I know specifics.” This extra information makes it clear that you’re trying to be forthcoming. If the plans you describe later change, of course, then you will need to update the notice.