Best Interest of the Child Relevant in Move Away Cases

In the case of Brosnan v. Brosnan, Jesse and Elizabeth, were married and had two children. They divorced in 2009. The divorce decree awarded primary physical custody of the children to Elizabeth and granted visitation to Jesse.

Years later, Elizabeth remarried and her new husband accepted a job in California, Elizabeth filed a motion to relocate.

The circuit court determined that it was in the best interests of the children to move to California and awarded Elizabeth $3,500 in attorney fees. The circuit court found that during the marriage, Elizabeth was the primary caretaker of the kids. Also, the court found that Elizabeth was awarded sole legal and physical custody of the kids in the divorce and that Jesse had abused Elizabeth and one of the kids during the marriage. Additionally, the circuit court found that Elizabeth was a fit parent and had provided for the kids since birth. In contrast, even if Jesse had improved his parenting skills and improved his relationship with the children since the divorce, he had to demonstrate a longer history of appropriate behaviors in order for the court to conclude he was a fit parent.

The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in (1) admitting and relying on certain evidence in making its determination; (2) determining that relocation was in the best interests of the children; and (3) awarding Elizabeth $3,500 in attorney fees.