Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Parental Relocation Law in Connecticut

Connecticut has passed “An Act Concerning the Relocation of Parents Having Custody of Minor Children,” to be effective October 1, 2006, that significantly changes the law of parental relocation in Connecticut.

The Act is a result of the decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court in Ireland v. Ireland, 246 Conn. 413, 428, 717 A.2d 676 (1998) which had made it easier for custodial parents to relocate.

The Ireland case held that a custodial parent seeking to relocate must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed relocation is motivated by a legitimate purpose and that the new location bears a reasonable relation to that purpose. Once that initial hurdle was overcome, the burden shifted to the opposing parent to establish why relocation would not be in the child’s best interests.

Fathers’ organizations in particular opposed the approach in Ireland on the ground that it was unfair to compel a non-custodial parent to prove that relocation to another state or country would be contrary to the child’s best interests.

The new law reverses the burden of proof. It provides that the relocating parent has a triple burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed relocation is for a legitimate purpose, that the proposed location is reasonable in light of such purpose, and that the proposed relocation is in the best interests of the child.

The act also specifies that the court should include in its consideration (1) each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the relocation; (2) the quality of the relationships between the child and each parent; (3) the impact of the relocation on the quantity and the quality of the child's future contact with the non-relocating parent; (4) the degree to which the relocating parent's and the child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the relocation; and (5) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements.