Many people who go through a divorce, and are awarded primary physical care of their children (i.e. the children live primarily with one person and have visitation with the other), sometimes face a potential move/relocation to another area of the state. The question then arises, “Can the custody of my children be modified due to my move?” The answer is maybe.
In Iowa there is a law that states that if the custodial parent relocates 150 miles or more from the children’s residence at the time that custody was awarded, said distance may provide what is known as a “substantial change in circumstances” which can result in a change of custody of the children to the non-custodial parent. The term, “substantial change in circumstances” means that the circumstances surrounding the original award of custody have changed in a manner that the parties had not contemplated at the time the Decree was entered warranting a change of custody of the children from one parent to the other. Under the relocation statute, the 150 mile move alone creates the “substantial change” without any other facts needed to support the modification. Many people think that if he/she moves less than 150 miles away that there is no “substantial change”. This may not be the case.
A recent Iowa case found that even though the custodial parent moved only 98 miles away, the Court said that, “..nothing in the law prohibits the court from finding a substantial change in circumstances has arisen from a move of less than this distance if there are other “surrounding circumstances” that impact the custodial arrangement”. We would caution you to not rely on the 150 mile rule as your basis for a move and expect that custody will not be changed. Seek the advice of counsel to help you determine if other facts exist that may affect a change in custody.
Should you require additional information on this topic, please feel free to contact Simpson Legal Group, LLC at (712) 256-9899.