After my divorce is final, can I move away from North Carolina? Frankly, I’d like to get away from my ex-wife.


Before your divorce, as you may recall, you had to fulfill the residency requirements for a North Carolina divorce. That means either you or your wife must have lived in the state for at least six months before the divorce petition was filed.

After the divorce is final, though, the only thing that may infringe on your freedom to live where you want is the final court order for your divorce. If you and your ex-wife have children together, and if you are the primary custodian or joint custodian of the kids, then you may well face restrictions on moving with your children. It’s common that the custodial parent is forbidden to move to another residence significantly farther away because this would create a hardship for the other parent who wants to visit the kids.

Your very first step, if you are determined to move away, is to contact your divorce attorney in North Carolina. He will be able to review your divorce judgment and let you know if there are restrictions on your rights to live where you want. Note that such restrictions don’t only apply to moving across state lines—some divorce orders forbid moving your household even 100 miles away.

If the divorce decree contains a clause forbidding you to move, then you would have to apply to the court for a modification of the final divorce orders. Your lawyer can file that motion on your behalf and can represent you in the hearing that will follow. Of course, your ex-wife will also be notified of the date and purpose of the hearing, and she may try to have the court reaffirm its original order that prevents you from moving.

It can be helpful if you can negotiate with your ex-wife directly (or through your respective attorneys) to reach an agreement before the hearing. The court almost always will go along with an agreement between the two parties. This may require you to think of creative ways to maintain a close relationship between your kids and their mother despite the distance separating them.

The wrong reason to move away

We have known some clients to relocate to another state in an attempt to evade their responsibilities to pay child support or alimony (spousal support) as required by a North Carolina divorce order. If this is your motive, we say: forget it.

Your legal obligations for child support and spousal support are not changed by where you live. Enough people have tried to skip out on their duties that federal and state laws are in place to handle these defections. You will be tracked down and possibly arrested. Your pay will be garnished. You may have licenses revoked, including your driver’s license or business license. You may even be risking jail time.

Connect to Speaks Law Firm today

If you need an alteration of your divorce orders, our family law attorneys stand ready to assist you. Give us a call today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233. We provide confidential and discreet service.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.