Relocating Your Child Out of State without the Other Parent’s Permission

by | Jan 14, 2022 | Family Law | 0 comments

There are two types of custody arrangements in North Dakota: equal residential responsibility (when parents share 50/50 custody) and primary residential responsibility (when one parent has the child 51% of the time or greater).

Parent with Primary Residential Responsibility

When a parent with primary residential responsibility wants to relocate the child out of the state of North Dakota, the parent must have:

1) the consent of the other parent (if the other parent was granted parenting time); or 

2) an order from a North Dakota district court.

It’s important to note that a party does not need an order from the court if:

1) the other parent has not exercised parenting time for one year; or 

2) the other parent has moved to another state and is more than 50 miles from the parent with primary residential responsibility. 

For example, if the parent without primary residential responsibility moves out of Fargo, North Dakota to Alexandria, Minnesota, the custodial parent would be free to move to Texas, without the other parent’s or court’s permission. Ironically, a non-custodial parent could move over four hours away to Dickinson without permission, but could not move across the bridge to Moorhead, Minnesota.

Parties with Equal Residential Responsibility

When parties share equal residential responsibility and one parent wishes to relocate out of state with the child, the parent must have:

1) the consent of the other parent; or 

2) an order from a North Dakota court. 

To get an order from the court, the moving party must prove that they should be awarded primary residential responsibility. This is not an easy task.

Stout-Hawkinson Test

To get an order from the court, the moving party must prove the following Stout-Hawkinson factors weigh in favor of the move:

1) the prospective advantages of the move in improving the custodial parent’s and child’s quality of life; 

2) the integrity of the custodial parent’s motive for relocation, considering whether it is to defeat or deter visitation by the non-custodial parent; 

3) the integrity of the non-custodial parent’s motives for opposing the move; and 

4) the potential negative impact on the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child, including whether there is a realistic opportunity for visitation which can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child if relocation is allowed and the likelihood that each parent will comply with such alternate visitation. 

Additionally, the moving party must show there has been a material change of circumstances and that it is in the children’s best interests. Again, this is not an easy burden to meet.

If there is no Custody Order Established

If a court has not yet entered a custody order, then a parent is technically allowed to move whenever and wherever they would like with the child without permission from the other parent or the court. I say this with caution. Relocating out of state with a child without permission from the other parent can be greatly frowned upon by the court and can be weighed against you in the outcome of a future custody case. The best thing you can do is to be open and accommodating with your co-parent about your intentions of moving. 


If you are looking to relocate, it is in your best interests to have an experienced family law attorney at your side. Feel free to contact our office at (701) 775-0654 or email us at to schedule a free consultation.

*The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as so. 

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