When deciding who the child lives with in a divorce settlement, the judge may base their decision at least partly on the geographic location of the parents. For example, if one parent has moved to a new part of the country, far away from the original home where the two parents lived together when they were married, the judge may not grant custody to that parent.
Other factors will come into play, of course, but the judge will be looking at the child’s wellbeing. If the child has lived in the area for a long time, establishing relationships and getting used to the school and the town, then the judge would be more likely to keep the child in the same place.
The judge will consider how comfortable the child would be living with one parent or the other. If the move to a new location would be deemed emotionally distressing, then the judge may not allow custody of the child to the parent who lives far away from the child’s current home.
The judge may post a geographic restriction on where the child is allowed to live. This usually occurs when both parents live in the same general area. The judge will then impose an area restriction based around where the two parents live, where the child’s school is located and other areas of interest and importance to the child.
The parent who has custody of the child may not be allowed to move the child outside that area unless they receive permission from the other parent. If the other parent moves away, however, then the restriction will be lifted because the area will no longer be deemed important to both parents.
When deciding the custody of the child, the judge may also take into consideration the quality of life they will receive with one parent or another, depending on the geographic location of the parents. If one parent lives in what is considered a dangerous neighborhood, where the child’s chances of success and wellbeing are considered at risk, then the judge may not grant custody of the child to that parent while they live in that area.
That kind of decision can be made regardless of what other factors are working in that parent’s favor. Of course, these situations have a considerable degree of complexity and it’s wise to consult a qualified law firm to help you navigate all custody issues.