Case Law Update:  Motion to Modify is not required to relocate, but 60 day notice must be given to the non-moving parent, who then may file an objection.

Under Missouri law the address designated as the minor child’s primary residence for educational and mailing purposes is considered a sub-issue of custody. A change to the residential designation is a change to the terms related to joint physical custody, such as the parenting time schedule, and it is not a change to the custodial arrangement itself.

In a recent case, the court determined Mother was required to comply with the Missouri relocation notice requirements. Although Mother and Father had joint physical custody of the minor children, the primary residential address for the children was Father’s address in Missouri.  Mother’s motion to modify sought to change this designation of the residential parent from Father to Mother. As a result, Mother’s request to modify the custody arrangement was properly the subject of a motion to modify.

The relocation notice requirement does not require that a parent desiring to relocate a minor child file any motion seeking permission to do so. Instead, the statute provides for a procedure triggered by notice of the proposed relocation.  Once proper notice is given, unless the non- relocating parent files a motion seeking to prevent the relocation, the residence of the child may be relocated sixty days after notice without court intervention.

As a result the trial court erred in dismissing Mother’s motion to modify based on her failure to follow both the statutory requirements for relocation as well as the court’s previous judgment.

Missouri Court of Appeals

Eastern District

ED 100424

Filed April 8, 2014