Parent Must Show Irreparable Injury Under the Alabama Relocation Act

If you are divorced or about to file for divorce and you have children, the Court will require language of the Alabama Relocation Act.  After 15 years of practice, I believe that the Alabama Relocation Act, is one of the best pieces of legislation that have become law in the Family Law area.

A decade ago if a parent wanted to move out of state, it was much easier and harder to prevent the parent from leaving.  The non-moving party had to rush to court and file an emergency motion to try and prevent the parent   from leaving the state with the child.  I am not suggesting that a parent should not been allowed to move for various legitimate reasons.  Often a parent will want to relocate due to a change of jobs, or a transfer for higher pay, or to be closer to a family unit. 

The other side of the issue is the non-locating parent may or will not have as much visitation with the minor children.  Another issue is the travel that will be required to see the children.  The Alabama Relocation Act was written primarily for the reasons listed above. 

In the present situation of Fancher v. Fancher, the parties were divorced in 2014.  The mother was granted primary custody with the father having certain visitation rights.  The parties modified the divorce on one prior occasion as to child support and visitation with the father. 

The father filed another modification this year to prevent the mother moving to another county in Alabama.  The father alleged that the mother would be living with her new boyfriend that was abusive and he feared for his children.  The father failed to list how the living arrangements would affect his children.  The father did not list any allegations that the new boyfriend had in any way endangered his children or had ever threatened them.  The father filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the mother from moving before a hearing.

This is not to say the father was wrong in his motivation to file the temporary restraining order.  The father was exercising his rights to seek court intervention and to protect his children.  If I had been representing him, I would have filed it as well if I believed the children were in any type of physical, emotional or psychological harm.  

The trial court did not enter the restraining order and the father appealed.  The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals relied on Ex Parte Williams, 474 s. 2d 707, (Ala. 1985).  In the case is Williams, the Court ruled that “the father’s restraining order should be enforced because the mother was moving to Georgia and it would prevent his visitation with the minor children.  The Court further added that in the current case of Fancher the father had not demonstrated or produced persuasive evidence that the restraining order would prevent immediate or irreparable injury.”

While we do not have all of the facts of this case, the clear issue is to prevent the moving parent the non-moving party must prove that irreparable injury will occur if the parent moves with the minor children. 

If you are seeking a modification of a child custody order, seeking a change of custody or trying to prevent a parent from leaving the state with your children, contact Ingram Law LLC, at 205-335-2640.    

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