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Refused certified letter still provided notice of mother's relocation

Parents often make the decision to relocate with their children after divorce proceedings, whether it is due to a new job or a new spouse. However, depending on the circumstances, if there are children involved there may be procedures which should be followed prior to the relocation.

Under Oklahoma law, a custodial parent has a presumptive right to relocate. However, state law also requires notice be given to the other parent of the intent to relocate and provides for a hearing procedure if the non-custodial parent objects to the relocation. Disputes may arise around this notice provision, as the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals case of Plumlee v. Plumlee demonstrates.

Was a letter that was refused adequate notice?

A few weeks after a divorce was granted, awarding the mother custody of the child, the mother filed a notice of relocation and mailed a copy to father. The father objected to the move, and the district court sustained that objection, preventing the mother from moving.

The following year, the mother mailed a second notice of relocation, properly addressed to the father, by certified mail. After a second attempt to deliver the letter, the postal service returned the letter to the mother marked "refused." The mother then filed a third notice approximately two months later, notifying the father that she was delaying the date of her move by approximately one month. After a second delivery attempt, the postal service also returned this certified letter, marked "refused."

Thereafter, the mother relocated and about a month later, the father filed an objection to the relocation. Among other arguments, the father argued that he was not provided the notice required because he did not personally receive the mailing sent by mother; rather, his roommate had refused the letters.

The Court of Civil Appeals found that there was no language in the law that required the party served-the person given the notice-to be the same as the person who refuses the mailing. The mother's mailing satisfied the requirements of the statute. Therefore, even if the father's roommate was the person who refused the mother's certified mail, notice of the mother's intent to relocate was completed when the certified mail containing that notice was refused. The father was provided with adequate notice of the child's relocation.

Seek advice prior to a relocation

Even long after a divorce proceeding, issues related to child custody can continue to arise. As life circumstances change for you or your children, a relocation may be necessary, and it is important to consider the implications of such a move and take appropriate action prior to the relocation.

If you are a divorced parent considering relocation, seek the advice of an attorney experienced in child custody matters to assist you in resolving custody, visitation and other issues involved in such a move, particularly if you need to move out of the state.