If a person has decided to move to another country and that person has minor children in common with another person that does not live with them or is separated, such person needs the authorization of the other parent to take the children out of Puerto Rico or, in lieu thereof, authorization from the Court. The process varies depending on the situation.
Law No. 102 of 2018, as amended, known as the Uniform Custodial Parent Relocation Guide, provides uniform criteria for relocation proceedings involving minors.
Application to Relocate Minors Outside of Puerto Rico
How to request authorization when the parties are in agreement?
If the parties reach an agreement, it must be put down in writing and sworn before an attorney-notary. This document will include a plan detailing how the children will maintain visitation with the party that remains in Puerto Rico.
How to request authorization when the parties do not agree or when it is unknown whether the other party agrees?
A party interested in moving away from Puerto Rico with a minor must file a request with the Court when the relocating party has not been able to reach an agreement or contact the other party. In said case, the Court will determine whether or not to authorize the relocation of the minors outside of Puerto Rico.
This request must be made prior to the relocation or move, and with sufficient time for the other party to be notified of the request and to express their view regarding the relocation. The Court may hold one or more hearings to consider the request, taking into consideration the minor’s well-being.
If the parties have a previous case in Court related to parental rights (patria potestas), custody, or visitation with the children, the request may be filed as a motion to that case. If the parties have not previous case, a new proceeding must be commenced with the Court; that is, a complaint must be filed. In both instances, the appropriate internal revenue stamps must be paid.
This type of request requires that specific allegations be made and particular evidence be presented. For this reason, and since these are highly complex situations, it is recommended that you contact an attorney of your choice prior to filing. The relocation request must be filed within a case before the Family Division of the Superior Court and may not be filed as an application for provisional legal status or a similar matter with the Investigations Division of the Court.
What should a person do if they find out that the father or mother of their child wants to remove the child from Puerto Rico?
If a person finds out that the other parent wants to remove their child from Puerto Rico, they must first contact the other party and find out the details of the relocation. If the person is unable to contact the other party or is unable to reach an agreement to keep the minor in Puerto Rico, then the person may file an application for the Court to decide if the relocation will be allowed.
If a person finds out afterwards that their child has been removed from Puerto Rico, what should they do?
The party may move the Court to order that the child be immediately returned to the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico, if appropriate.
If a party removes a child from Puerto Rico without the consent of the other parent and without the authorization of the Court, it can be considered kidnapping or child abduction, which entails serious penalties and may even result in losing custody of the child.
Do the same procedures apply if relocation is temporary without the intention of residing outside of Puerto Rico?
Yes. If the parents are not in agreement, the Court must be petitioned to authorize the relocation of the minor outside Puerto Rico. Depending on the particular circumstances of the case, one of the following forms may be used to begin proceedings before the Court:
• Motion for Permission to Relocate with Minors Outside the Jurisdiction of Puerto Rico to Live Abroad («Moción Solicitando Permiso para Trasladar a Menores de la Jurisdicción de Puerto Rico para Residir Fuera de la Isla»; OAT 1435 )
• Motion for Permission to Remove Minors from Puerto Rico («Moción Solicitando Permiso para Trasladar a Menores Fuera de Puerto Rico»; OAT 1434 )
What is the procedure to remove minors from Puerto Rico?
The following is a general outline of a procedure under Law No. 102 of 2018 when the relocation away from Puerto Rico exceeds 90 days.
1. Notice of relocation
The child’s custodial parent who is interested in relocating away from Puerto Rico must notify the other parent or person with parental rights. The notice is sent via certified mail with a return receipt request at least 30 days prior to relocation. Concurrently, notice is filed with the Court via a motion to such effects.
The notice must include, but not limited to, the following information:
a. intention to relocate
b. physical address of new main residence of the custodial parent and the child
c. reasons for relocating
d. location and information of the school or daycare (address, phone number, teacher, principal)
e. workplace and employer’s general information
f. general information of the custodial parent or guardian
g. information on individuals in addition to the custodial parent or legal guardian with whom the child will be living
h. landlord’s information, if applicable
i. certification of employment or enrollment
The non-custodial parent has 20 days from the receipt of the notice of relocation to file a response by certified mail with a return receipt request. In the response, the non-custodial parent must oppose the relocation and state their position regarding the same.
The Court will evaluate the filings and schedule one or more hearings where the parties will have the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments. Some of the factors the Court will take into consideration, among the multiple reasons directed to ensuring the child’s well-being, are:
• the child’s preference
• need or reasons for relocating (e.g., work, housing, quality of life, protection of life, lifestyle change, new partner, among other reasons)
• the possibility of a stable life (e.g., location and physical facilities, medical services, social services, and cultural elements)
• special needs (specialized medical services)
• length of time of the relocation or stay
If deemed necessary, the judge may order a home study of the area where the child is to be relocated.
4. Decision of the Court
The judge will consider all the information presented and will determine whether to authorize the relocation. To authorize the relocation, the judge must conclude that the relocation is not intended to undermine the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent or any party with an interest in the child; that there is a valid reason for the relocation, and that the minor will have better opportunities and a better quality of life where they are to relocate.
Revised: March 2023