In today’s society, mobility has become a way of life. For people who share children with an ex spouse or partner, mobility can pose challenges. A residential parent’s life changes can impact a non-residential parent’s ability to have continuing, regular contact with their children. Earlier in the month, we discussed the requirements for sending the Move-Away letter. In today’s post, we explore the move-away letter in detail.
Last time, we explained the statutory requirements of the notice statute, K.S.A. 23-3222. We discussed the move-away letter and the service requirements. We explained what restricted mail and return-receipt delivery meant. Based on the importance given to this information by the Court, the first line of your move away letter should state:
Sent by restricted mail, return-receipt requested
Next, provide the date the letter was mailed. This is important for several reasons. First, a residential parent must “give written notice” to the non-residential parent of “not less than 30 days” before a child’s move to a new residence or for any travel longer outside of the State that lasts longer than 90 days. This language can mean several things. First, it can mean that the non-residential parent must receive the notice of change of address at least 30 days prior to the actual move. As we can see, dates are important to the Court. Thus, my second recommendation is to include the date on which the letter was sent in the line following the restricted mail service.
What do I put in the body of the letter?
The first paragraph must meet the requirements of K.S.A. 23-3222(a.) First, give the non-residential parent the new address at which the child will live. Next, give the date on which that status will begin. Remember, give the non-residential parent AT LEAST 30 days notice before the date that the new place of residence begins.
In the next paragraphs include updated information about the children’s information. Important information to share? Daycare information, new service providers (doctors, counselors, etc.), and updated school contacts. A good idea? Create a paragraph of info for each child, especially if their school or medical information differs from that of other children.
After conforming to the legal requirements, follow standard business etiquette. Parts of a letter governed by business etiquette are the recipient’s address, reference line, closing, signature block, name, enclosures and courtesy copy.
For more information, please refer to my favorite etiquette reference:
Next, end your correspondence in a neutral and respectful manner. This is good advice even when you are “certain” that notice will result in more litigation between you and the other parent. Life is not guaranteed to be easy or simple. Statutes require you to show more than good faith efforts. Before you complain, think, would you not want the same if the situation were reversed? Of course you would. You should show respect and willingness to collaborate with the non-residential parent. This may help you in the litigation process.
Need a sample move away letter? Check out our Facebook page notes at:
Divorce is never the end when children are involved. Co-parenting post-divorce requires greater communication and understanding. Communication failures can lead to additional litigation. But, a happy and healthy co-parenting model can be achieved. Understanding your responsibilities as the primary residential parent is pivotal to achieving compliance.
What are the notice requirements?
K.S.A. 23-3222 Change in Child’s Residence; Notice; Effect; Exceptions.
In Kansas, issues leading to litigation can arise when residential parents (and children) move. Any move, whether the same city or across the country, triggers the move-away notice requirement. Providing notice to the non-residential parent is required by statute. Outlined in K.S.A. 23-3222 are the requirements for a move-away letter. K.S.A. 23-3222(a) states that a residential parent must,
“give written notice to the other parent not less than 30 days prior to: (1) Changing the residence of the child; or (2) removing the child from this state for a period of time exceeding 90 days. Such notice shall be sent by restricted mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the other parent.”
People fail to follow this statute sometimes due to one simple reason… Technology. Most co-parenting communication occurs by voice, text or email. But, the last sentence of the notice requirement states that notice must be sent by RESTRICTED MAIL. A text or email message will not satisfy this requirement.
How do I meet the requirements?
Notice must be written on paper and placed in an envelope addressed to the non-residential parent. It is not enough to drop it off at the nearest mailbox. To perfect service, take the sealed communication to the U.S. Post Service (hereinafter, USPS.) To achieve proper service use USPS Form 3811, also known as the “Domestic Return Receipt.” Form 3811 is a postcard that is returned to you. This form will be affixed to your communication. On one side, there will be space for the non-residential parent’s last known address. Write it clearly and cleanly on the form. Once the non-residential parent receives this, (s)he will need to sign for it.
There are other steps to comply with the RESTRICTED portion of the statute. After the signature line, there are two boxes: Agent and Addressee. RESTRICTED MAIL delivery requires that the sender mark the box for Addressee only. To ensure its return, add your name and address to the other side of Form 3811. Once returned, it serves an important function as evidence in a court proceeding, if that becomes necessary.
Are there other best practices I should consider?
Yes. Because potential litigation can result from this notice (child relocation cases are not uncommon) it is important to make a copy of all the information that you send to the non-residential parent for your records (if you need help drafting your move-away letter, check out our blog post in two weeks.) Another idea is to track the notice by USPS. RESTRICTED MAIL is assigned a tracking number that you can then use here.
Finally, be aware that errors may occur. On occasion, the USPS may accidentally permit NON-RESTRICTED SERVICE by allowing any adult in the home to sign for the document. If Form 3811 is returned to you with a signature other than the non-residential parent’s then you will have to provide service again. This may prove challenging as you may have sent the notice exactly 30 days prior giving yourself no time to correct the situation. Keep copies and originals (Form 3811) from the first mailing and start over. For further questions regarding this type of issue, consult with a qualified family law attorney.
What else does K.S.A. 23-3222 require?
K.S.A. 23-3222 has no other requirements. It does inform on the consequences to the residential parent for failure to follow the requirements. Part (b) explains that a Court may find a residential parent“in contempt of court.” This occurs if residential parent fails to provide a Move-Away notice. Another consequence for failing to follow the rules is a “Change in Circumstances determination as outlined in part (c.) Such a determination could cause the Court to change the residential placement. If you have more questions, communicate with a qualified family law practitioner in your jurisdiction. Finally part (d), informs residential parents that certain co-parents, do not have right to notice. This refers to people with past criminal convictions.
Does this post help you? What questions does it create for you? (Your feedback may be featured in one of our future blog posts.)
Next Week: Immigration Law Post.
Following Week: How to write a Move-Away Letter