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Trial Court Decision Upheld Denying Mother’s Request to Relocate Child

Family Law Case Review

Drake v. Drake (October 31, 2023) (Relocation Case)

HELD: Trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Mother’s request to relocate with Child from Indianapolis to San Diego, citing findings that the relocation would not be in Child’s best interests.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Mother and Father met in San Diego in 2016 while Father was stationed there with the Marine Corps. The parties married the following year and moved to Indiana in 2018. Child was born the same year.

In 2021, Mother filed her petition for dissolution of marriage and, shortly thereafter, a notice of intent to relocate with Child to San Diego. Mother recited better educational and employment opportunities for her in San Diego, as well as her support system there. Father objected.

Following a hearing, the trial court made detailed findings that, while Mother’s requested relocation was made in good faith, the relocation was ultimately not in Child’s best interests. Specifically, the long distance between Indianapolis and San Diego would undercut Father’s bond and parenting relationship with Child. And Mother’s educational and employment opportunities in San Diego were not substantially superior to those in Indianapolis. Mother appealed.

The Court of Appeals viewed Mother’s appeal as an invitation to reweigh the evidence that was presented to the trial court. Concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother’s relocation, its denial was affirmed.


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