California Move-Away Requests Settle Custody Issues After Relocation

Divorced parents are allowed to relocate with their children as long as the move does not threaten the rights and/or welfare of the children.

As the economy continues on a path to recovery, more jobs are again being created in California and across the country. However, a move across the state or country is sometimes required for the right job.

The federal and state Constitutions guarantee the right to move freely across state borders. However, for divorced and single parents relocations can pose a challenge if the noncustodial parent believes that a move will be harmful for the children.

Parents who may be considering a nationwide job search or who have been offered employment in another state must consider the implications a move will have on their current child custody arrangement. Any potential move can disrupt a young child's life and may cause problems. Visitation with the noncustodial parent could also become more limited. Thus, a California move-away attorney should be consulted to ensure the proper steps are followed.

Child Custody Arrangement Following a Move

Under California law, custodial parents are entitled to relocate along with their minor children as long as the move does not "prejudice the rights or welfare of the child." If the request is made as part of an initial custody determination, the court decides what custody arrangement is in the child's best interests.

A custodial parent cannot plan to move solely to interfere with the noncustodial parent's visitation. The trial court may ask why the parent wants to move in an effort to make sure that the purpose is not to limit contact with the noncustodial parent.

As long as no improper purpose exists, the custodial parent does not need to show the move is necessary. If objecting to a move, the noncustodial parent must show that relocating will be detrimental to the children.

Other factors that the court will review in deciding whether to modify custody orders following the move-away request are:

  • The distance of the move
  • The age of the children
  • The children's relationship with each parent
  • The children's wishes, if they are old enough to express a preference

The children's interest in stability and continuity of custody arrangement may also be balanced against the disruption that a move might cause.

A recent California case found that in move-away cases the trial court must determine custody issues based on the premise the move will take place as planned. The question the court must resolve is not whether the parent is allowed to move, but what the custody arrangement should be if and when the custodial parent moves.

In the event that you need to relocate for a new position or you want to try to keep your children from moving, contact an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help build a persuasive argument to protect your children's rights and support your position.

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