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Who Pays Cost of Visitation Travel?

Many people ask what the law is on bearing transportation costs when a parent moves, particularly the custodial parent. The answer is that there is no law; it is up to the judge.

Ballard v. Ballard, 843 So. 2d 76, 80 (¶15) (Miss. Ct. App. 2003) states that while Mississippi law does not mandate the non-custodial parent to bear the burden of transportation costs, a relocation by the custodial parent does not require a division of costs.

In Ballard, the non-custodial father sought a modification of the child-visitation arrangements regarding travel costs to exercise his visitation rights. After the mother and child relocated across the state, the father argued the voluntary relocation by the mother required her to bear a portion of the costs incurred by the father.

While the chancellor awarded the father liberal visitation rights, the chancellor also found that compelling the mother to bear any of the transportation costs would not support the best interests of the child. The Court of Appeals Affirmed and agreed with the Chancellor’s determination that any contribution to transportation expenses by the mother would detract from her financial support of the child.

Note, the Court alluded to the possibility that if the father showed that the expense of additional travel would prevent the exercise of his visitation, then a modification could occur.

In the recent case of Lee v Lee, No. 2013-CA-00609-COA (11/25/14) the court denied a request for transportation costs where the Mother moved to Wisconsin.

As with everything, these decisions turn on their particular facts. I am aware of many cases where Chancellors have imposed transportation costs or divided them.