Alabama Relocation – Who Must Give Notice?

A couple of days ago we talked about when to give the notice required by the Alabama Relocation Act – the “Alabama Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act.” Today we’ll think through who must give the notice.

The statute requires either parent who is moving to give notice to the other. Many noncustodial parents (NCPs) mistakenly believe that they are free to move without notifying the custodial parent (CP). Not so. Ala. Code §30-3-164 requires the notice from every person entitled to custody of or visitation with a child.

And divorced parents sometimes mistakenly believe that they must give the notice only if they are moving to another city or state. Not true either. The notice is required even for a move across the street. It is only the right to object and call for a hearing that turns on the distance. The measure of the distance is this: the right to object applies if the move is further away from the other parent and more than 60 miles from the other parent, or if the move results in the child’s moving from the state where the other parent lives to some other state.

In either case, whether from the CP or the NCP, the notice must go to every other person entitled to custody of or visitation with a child. What happens if the NCP is entitled to reasonable and liberal visitation with the child but doesn’t have a specific schedule? That’s still visitation, and logic would indicate the notice is required.

What happens if the NCP hasn’t asked for visitation or for some other reason isn’t entitled to it? The statute, specifically Ala. Code §30-3-163, describes a requirement to “provide notice to every other person entitled to custody of or visitation with a child of a proposed change of the child’s principal residence.” So if there is no other person entitled to custody of or visitation with the child, there is no one to receive the notice and hence (one would think) no notice requirement.

50 thoughts on “Alabama Relocation – Who Must Give Notice?”

  1. My husband’s exwife left the state and moved to Illinois with their toddler son five years ago with no warning. My husband went to pick up his son and the house was empty. At the time she had not broken a law, as unfair as it was, and both parents decided to try to come to reasonable agreements about visitation. My husband thought it best not to drag it through the courts at that time. Since that time, she has repeatedly denied his right to alternate holiday
    visits and has refused to pay for half the transportation costs and has been generally difficult. My husband has maintained a very close relationship with his son and he comes to visit often, even though the cost is very high for us to purchase plane tickets, etc. Now that he has started school, however, she is being even more unreasonable. He has tried to find a way to have her agree to something more fair, but she refuses. She states that Illinois now has jurisdiction and he doesn’t have a chance at a modification in the visitation order. Is this true? Can he not attempt to obtain a more fair order where the costs are at the very least shared equally and where he gets the time he deserves with his son?

  2. Sounds like it’s time for Dad to buy an hour’s time with a good family lawyer. My understanding is that Alabama won’t lose jurisdiction until the court voluntarily gives it up, and that seems unlikely if Dad is still living here. Most judges I know would make Dad pay for all transportation but would be willing to adjust child support (read Rule 32(a)(1)(B) at for extraordinary travel cost.

  3. My daughter wants to move back home with us, her parents,temporarily until she gets on her feet, with girls 7 and 9, where she has support of family, away from his control and the small town where everyone knows their business. She is in a desperate financial situaton and the move is a little more than 60 miles, about 90 miles. The divorce is not final and looks like will go to court. He is a controler who had at least a 3 yr. affair. Anger problem – hasn’t paid any child support since separation in Oct. Hearing for that is June 25 and court date July 30. Mediation was tried May 29 and he walked out w/out aggreement. Her attorney says go on and move with out filing the relocation notice. What can he do legally if she does this? Is this a wise thing to do? Her attorney has changed jobs since she hired him, works for some corporation, but insist he wants to follow this through. it’s not that we don’t trust him, but he also told her to go ahead a buy a house in town, which she can’t pay for now. Her husband had agreed to settle out of court, but now he won’t agree to anything. By the way, he is a dentist, and she sent him through school, moved to him parents home town, got a job while she had a baby she wanted to stay home with, so they could have insurance. Now that he is about out of dept from all the loans, and has money, she finds this out. We were unaware that the 13 yrs. of marriage had been unhappy for her. He is controling, abusive, yes even physically, and mean. He does love his girls though, and will have a fit when finding out they are moving. That is why we need to be prepared and know our options. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  4. I am currently going through an uncontested divorce with my soon to be ex-husband of 5 years. He was made to leave our apartment in December of 06′ for domestic violence and has since decided to reside in TN. We have finally agreed on the terms of the divorce and will be filing soon. Me and him both have agreed that he won’t keep me from moving in the future, in exchange for the ability to claim her on his taxes every other year. He has visitation about 4 days a month and our daughter (4) resides here with me the rest of the time. Since he has made it very clear that he is going to stay in TN with no plans of moving closer to his daughter in the future. Is there something that we can put in the paperwork stating that we are in agreement on this? If not, would a signed and notarized agreement by both parties hold up in court if he ever decided to change his mind? I have no plans of moving any time soon, but feel as if I should be able to move if I feel it is in OUR best interest, considering I have the majority of the responsibility on my shoulders. We would, in this statement, agree on visitation arangements, of course. Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated!

  5. I divorced in 2001 (before parent/child relationship protec. law) I have sole legal custody of my son on grounds of my exhusband attempting suicide and being diagnosed as a sociopath. Am I required to notify him of relocation- or am I “grandfathered in”? I do wish to relocate out of state. Any advice would be helpful…

  6. I have a question, My ex-spouse (the CP) is Currently in Iraq for the second time, The children have lived with me for the last 2 years, and then 1 year before those two seperated by only 4 months, so basicly almost 3 years straight. Now I get a phone call, and i’m told by the CP when they get finished with this tour, they will be based in ITALY!, for 4 years, and is taking the children there for the 4 years. My question is this, do I object now?, maybe send a copy of Alabama’s law to the commanding officer?, or what? because there is NO way I could afford to visit in Italy. And what kind of visitation could anyone hope to present to any court?

  7. I gather that the other parent is active duty military, in which case there’s no presumption that the move is not in the children’s best interest. Talk to your lawyer about the likelihood that you could get custody of the children. You would be basically making an argument in the SPIRIT of McLendon, even though the other parent has (in theory only) been the CP all this time.

  8. My husband and I are divorcing and about to sign a settlement agreement. But I don’t want him to know where I live because he was physically abusive. I have custody and he gets to see the kids regularly. Do I have to give him my address?

  9. It’s always difficult to keep an abusive person from knowing where you live if you have regular contact. All it takes is one time following you home, and he’s got you. That having been said, you can ask for leave of court to keep your residence address a secret. Most courts grant this readily.

  10. My wife and i have been seperated for 9 months now. She moved to mississippi in 7/07, I filed for divorce at that time. How does the relocation act come in to play in this situation. They live about 31/2 hour away and she will not let me take my son out of mississippi. (she says her lawyer advised her not to. Where do I stand at this point?

  11. The relocation act doesn’t have any relevance to a move that has already occurred before the court becomes involved.

    On visitation, I assume you filed in Alabama. If so, I would be surprised if your judge wouldn’t order regular visitation with you (as long as the judge doesn’t think it’s dangerous for your son to be alone with you), including authorizing you to take your son wherever you want during that visitation.

  12. HI lee, my question is my ex wife does not believe in holidays (birthdays, christmas, thanksgiven or any other days) do you think I will have a problem requesting and being granted these days in the divorce. Also she has moved to ms a couple of months ago can she be made to meet me half way. Thanks PS thanks for the timely response to question 12

  13. I know of no reason why a judge would refuse a non-custodial parent holiday visitation time unless the judge thought it would endanger the children to spend time with that parent.

  14. I am relocating to MS with my work. I am also getting remarried and have just sent a letter to the dad’s notifying them of the move. I have two children and I am unsure of what I am looking at in dealing with. I am in no way trying to keep the kids away for I know how important it is for my kids to have time with their father’s. I will bend over backwards to help them on every visitation. They are both going to try to stop me. Can you tell me what I can possibly expect?

  15. I gather you have one child by each father. What I think that means is that whether your move will go smoothly will depend on how these men respond when you send them the notice; specifically, it will go smoothly only if both fathers decide to take no action.


  17. No judge I know would order that a child not be taken to another state during visitation except in the presence of the most scary evidence of intent to flee with the child.

    Jurisdiction for a divorce follows the parties. So if the defendant is now living in MS, the divorce petition can be filed there. If the parties lived in Alabama together and the plaintiff now lives there, the divorce petition could also be filed in Alabama.

  18. All of the sudden My ex-wife moved to St. Pete fla. a Year ago….I have’nt seen my kids since….I didnt recieve a notice from her even thoe she knew where I lived,she sent the letter to my grandmothers house after she left, and my grandmother did’nt know the importance of the letter to give it to me .. so then I did’nt find out about the letter until well after the 45 days….It stinks that Im a father that pays child support and I cant see my kids ….what can i do….?

  19. if they continue to stay separated how does he get to see the child? if their is drugs being used at her moms will he have a better chance of getting custody? her dad uses, her brother and girl friend lives in the house and has been arrested for drugs and her mom, her dads a acoholic and has a dui. will this help our case and we can prove the arrest but the house is another thin to prove we know and have seen it but i know thats here say……as her grandmother what rights do i have if any we live in Alabama she’s in mississippi.. thanks for your advice

  20. To Robbie in #20: Check out this page on enforcing the decree: Not only do you have the right to see your kids; they need it too.

    To Patricia in #21: you should not take this on alone. Only if your son is equally committed is it worth it to pick a fight over this. If he’s committed, you and he need to go look at the list of custody factors used in MS, and think through what Dad would say and what Mom would say on each point. Then you’re ready to hire a MS lawyer to advise you on your strategy.

  21. I mailed a certified letter on my lawyer’s letterhead stating my intent to move past the 60 mile radius. The letter of intent states that I would not leave until June of 2009. It has been 30 days and my lawyer and I have not heard from my ex or his lawyer. Does that mean I can move June of 09 without a legal fight on my hands? Can he do anything about it?

  22. I have another question. My ex have moved 2 times since our divorce without a certified notice from him or his lawyer. Can I hold this against him if needed?

  23. I complied in the letter stating of my intent to move with the location, schools and projected date. My lawyer says that we have complied with what the relocation act says. Since it has been 30 days and I have not received anything from him or his lawyer, does that mean I am in the clear? I have sent the letter this early because I wanted to know if I could move so I could be looking for a house and a job.

  24. If you’ve followed the statute, then you’ve read it and know that it says that you’re free to move if the NCP doesn’t object to the move within 30 days of your notice.

  25. When I say that I have not heard from him in the 30 day notice, I mean that I have not received anything in writing from him or him lawyer. He did text me stating that he would fight me but that is all I have heard.

  26. This weekend my ex-husband had called our daughter wanting her to walk to her grand parents home so he could see our son. Though he has visitation rights at certain times which are honored, I actually let him see them most anytime he wants. However, this time, we had company and were doing family things at home so I said no. A few minutes later he calls me cursing me and threatening to take my children away. I take very good care of my children and provide them with both their wants and needs. My two daughters are of 15 and 17–both who I understand have a right to choose. My son is only 4 years old–am I going to have to walk on pins and needles for the next 14 years? I dont interupt or call him during his time of visitation. Do I have to allow him to see them anytime he wants–even at the drop of a hat or can I rest comfortable by saying no every now and then(knowing that he can’t legally do anything about it)?

  27. As I have said in other contexts, a divorced custodial parent should concentrate on being a good parent and complying with the judge’s decree; that’s about all you can say grace over. The rest, including Dads who get angry when they can’t have things their way upon last-minute requests, will have to take care of itself.

  28. If a ncp moves without letting cp know in writing. cp has no way of sending iformation what happens then.

  29. Talk to your lawyer. My guess is that you go ahead and file anyway to record your objection, and then you begin doing everything you can to serve the other parent. But that’s just a guess; your lawyer knows much more about this than I do.

  30. What happens if I am the NCP and my custody is as follows:I have my two girls every other FRiday, Saturday, Sunday,Monday, and Tuesday night and I return them to school on Wednesday mornings. During the summer I have them equal time. I just got my relocation warning from my ex-wife that she is relocating 55 miles away and she wants me to have them just every other weekend during the school year which will take alot of my visitation away. Her reason for moving is because she is getting remarried.I am very much involved with my children and have always been. Can I object to the move? What are my rights here? Can she just decide to move when it affects my custody? Remember she is not moving 60 miles, she is moving just shy of 60 miles.

  31. Yes, you can object. Mom’s trying to bring about a unilateral modification of the terms of your divorce decree, and you need to act promptly if you want it not to happen. No, you may not be able to stop the relocation, but you can keep up the same schedule, and then ask the court to reduce your child support because of all the extra driving you’re having to do because of Mom’s move.


  33. My wife sent notice to her ex-husband through certified mail of her desire to move to another state to live with her new husband (me). The certified letter, however, was not picked up at the post office, and was returned to us! Does this mean that we can move without fear of court objection, or is he protected by not picking up his mail? I’m worried that we will have to send the letter out again and start the clock all over.

  34. Did Mom comply with the statute? If she did, and if the notice was ineffective because Dad has moved without telling her or because he chose not to accept it, the statute permits her to move. She’s certainly free to pick up the phone and call him, though, and tell him what’s going on. I think that’s the gracious thing to do, don’t you?

  35. Yep, my wife even visited a lawyer to make sure that all the information that needed to be in the letter, was in the letter.

    We were sort of hoping that we’d fulfilled the main thrust of the law as my step-daughter is frightened of him, and “loves” to hold things up in court as a form of control over his ex-wife (the divorce, I’m told, took more than three years, when they’d only been married for 4 months).

    Phoning him doesn’t work–he will only allows us to communicate information to him through his daughter… and she’s usually too scared of him to tell him anything.

  36. OK, I have a question. I received a certified letter from my ex stating that he is moving. This is the 3rd time that he has moved and only the first time that I have received a letter. We have joint custody with me being primary. I have moved twice since the divorce. The first time I moved, I told him by email after the move. The 2nd time was recently and I told him by email when I found out that I was moving. The first 2 times that he moved he did not tell me until I found out from my child and I asked him over email. I see that the Act states that it has to be by certified mail. I moved last month and told him by email in which he did not say he had any issues with the move. I have confirmation that he received the email. Can I get in trouble if he tries to do anything since I did not do the certified mail notification?

  37. Dad’s right; it needs to be by certified mail. And yes, it’s a gigantic trap for the unwary. To answer your question, yes, you can make life more difficult for yourself to fail to comply with the statute.

    I don’t feel comfortable trying to diagnose your level of risk on a message board, so I won’t. Suffice it to say, however, that at a minimum you want to comply with the statute with respect to any future moves.

  38. I understand and thank you for your response. I did not intentionally not follow the divorce decree. I didn’t even look to see that it was required to send it via certified letter. Now that I know that’s how it should be sent, should I send one for the move that happened last month stating that I did not realize it was required and that I sent an email but wanted to follow-up with the certified letter. Or should I just leave it alone? Your advise is appreciated.

  39. My boyfriend’s ex-wife just up and moved their daughter to California and gave him one days notice. The child is 6 years old. When he tries to get in touch with the ex-wife to speak to his daughter, he finds it difficult. Also, she has sent him a letter in the mail from the state of California about child support. I was under the impression it would be through the state they were divorced in. The problem lies in the fact that he was deployed in Iraq when they were divorced and he had no other choice (he says) than to do uncontested divorce so he says there aren’t any formal visitation standards listed in their divorce. Has she broken this relocation act? I told him that he shouldn’t sign any child support papers until we can speak to an attorney but our funds are very limited. He is a good father and misses his child very much. What would you recommend? Is there any way we can file motions and modifications on our own without an attorney or somewhere reputable that does low income families?

  40. You’re right. If this divorce case was adjudicated in AL, AL retains continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over child support as long as either parent or the child remains here. And yes, Mom is subject to the relocation statute and was required to give formal notice of her move. Dad should talk with a lawyer (and I know it’s expensive) about filing a petition to modify. He should know, however, that the court will consider his child support delinquency in its determination about whether the move to CA may be in the child’s best interest.

  41. Just got through with our case. We were seen by Judge Ferguson. We were told going in that he rarely allows children to move. Even though we gave written notice of our move (which he ignored), served him with papers through a process server (which he ignored until two days after the 30 day notice), the judge still blocked the move. I’m a college English teacher in Tennessee, with a contract job, and jobs teaching English are very scarce right now. I can’t easily move to Alabama! How is it in the best interest of the child to stay in Alabama when she testified that she wants nothing to do with him?
    Does Ferguson just ignore cases and side with the father all the time? Is there a way we can get another judge to hear our case? I’m completely shocked that after being married a year and half, my wife and daughter are still being held hostage.
    I apologize for venting… I am just shocked by this whole situation. If Alabama law is like this, I definitely don’t want my daughter growing up here.

  42. I live in Alabama and I have sent my ex husband a certified letter advising him that we will be relocating. He refuses to go pick up the letter because he thinks it is medical bills and I want money. What happens if he doesn’t pick up the letter and it is sent back to me? Does that mean I am free to move? Please advise.
    Thank you

  43. I hate to say this, but I honestly don’t know. Intuitively, you would think that Dad’s failing to pick up your letter would constitute deliver to him for purposes of the statute, but I don’t see any language to that effect in the statute. I’m sorry.

  44. Thank you Mr. Borden I have an appt with an attorney on Wednesday. I have to get some clarity on this because my husband leaves June 1.

  45. My fiance and his ex wife lived in TN. They divorced in Sept of 2008. December of 08 she got a bogus restraining order. In July of 2008 he moved to Alabama. May 2009 the ex remarried. In the divorce papers if either moved they were to be notified via certified mail. My fiance has not seen his 2 daughters ages 6 and 4 in 4 years because of the ex. The littlest daughter does not know him. I recently learned she moved the kids and her husband to Michigan. We received no notice. My fiance has tried numerous times to talk to his kids and she will not let him. What can we do?

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