Mother couldn’t be forced to move to accommodate visitation

A mother who moved from Missouri to Ohio can’t be legally required to move back to Missouri in order to accommodate the father’s visitation rights, the Missouri Supreme Court recently decided.

The mother had given birth to a child out of wedlock. After the father’s paternity was established through biological testing, he filed a lawsuit seeking custody or visitation.

The mother had moved to Ohio while the case was pending. A judge awarded her custody, but ordered her to return to Missouri so it would be easier for the father to visit the child.

But on appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court said this was wrong. It said a judge could consider parents’ plans about where they intend to live as a factor in awarding custody, but a judge has no right to force parents to relocate from their chosen place of residence.