Other articles have addressed how to respond when the other party wants to move and relocate the minor child. The purpose of this article is to examine how relocation of one party might impact the financial orders in a divorce case (child support and maintenance). We will assume the relocation has been done lawfully and the only issue remaining is to see how the relocation impacts these financial orders. Please keep in mind each case is unique. This article is written to be generally applicable but I will specifically rely on Kansas law in analyzing key issues. You should consult a domestic relations attorney to review your case in light of the law in your state.
Ken McRae, Esq.
A party could move after a divorce for any number of reasons. There are three primary ones, however: 1) to be with a new spouse or romantic interest; 2) to be closer to family; 3) for a new job or a job transfer. Of these three reasons, the new job or job transfer is the most directly relevant to the financial orders in a divorce case and I will spend most of this article on that specific reason. It is often helpful to look at an example rather than relying on vague descriptions. To help in understanding the impact of relocation on the two financial orders we will assume the following facts: the father earns $100,000 per year, the mother earns $50,000 per year and the parties have one 5 year old child. Maintenance (also known as alimony) is paid to a former spouse and is based on the need of the recipient and the ability of the other party to pay. Often courts will use a formula to calculate maintenance. A typical formula would be the party with the greater income will pay 25% of the difference in gross income to the other if there are no minor children and 20% of the difference if there is a minor child or children. In our example there is one child, so the court will use 20% of the difference in incomes. At the divorce the court would order father to pay mother $10,000 per year ($833/mo.) in maintenance. Let us assume mother has decided to relocate and see how this impacts maintenance. Maintenance usually terminates upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient. If she is relocating to be with a new spouse or romantic interest maintenance should terminate. If, however, she is moving for a job transfer or a new job, maintenance may continue under different terms. If mother gets a promotion or new job that will pay her $65,000 per year, and the divorce decree allows modification of maintenance, father can ask the court to decrease maintenance based on the mother