Relocating & Modifying Custody and Visitation in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmRelocation is something that everybody experiences at least once in their lives and it’s something that can happen even to a divorced parent.  There could be a range of reasons why a divorced parent might relocate with their kids. They might simply want a change of scene or move closer to friends and family.

However, relocation can cause problems for the non-custodial parent, especially in the visitation/custody side of things.

When to File

The non-custodial parent can file for modification at any time. The court may deem such a modification necessary if it is in line with the child’s best interests. The parent must be able to indicate a “significant change of circumstances” to support the request for modification.

However, all said and done, it is still not that easy to modify primary custody. In most cases, the primary order is seen as correct. However, there are certain conditions under which this can be challenged.

For starters, modification can be sought, as mentioned earlier, if it is in the child’s best interest. Here, best interests can encompass a range of factors. One of the key factors usually considered is contact with both parents and family stability.

Even the child’s preference can be considered by the courts. In fact, California does not follow an age cut-off rule like other states. So, the child’s age will not be a major hindrance. However, the judge’s own interpretation may play a role here. Most judges tend to ignore the opinions of children aged below 7.

Another factor that plays a role here includes co-parenting skills. Judges generally don’t side with a parent who is unwilling or unable to help the child build a healthy relationship with the non-custodial parent. So, there is hope if it can be proven that the relocation was done to get away from the non-custodial parent.

Get in Touch with a Lawyer

Though achievable, the modification of a child custody/visitation order can be a tricky process. So, the best way to move forward is to get in touch with a lawyer who is experienced in such matters.  An experienced lawyer can guide you on how to go about this.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

When Can A Custodial Parent Move A Child Out Of State?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDuring a divorce, parents need to take extra care when they are making custody arrangements for their children. The arrangements and custodial plan should include important aspects like the child’s health, education and welfare. It should also contain the physical presence of the child within a mentioned geographical location to protect the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.

So, what happens when the custodial parent decides to move the child out-of-state for a period of time. According to the California law, a parent cannot do that unless he/she has obtained a court order to do so. If the custodial parent relocates a minor child without approval from the court, he/she may attract fine or even jail time.

So, when is it possible for the custodial parent to relocate children?

When the non-custodial parent consents to the relocation

If the non-custodial parent agrees to the relocation of the child in a written agreement, the custodial parent can move the child out-of-sate after a judge approves the agreement.

If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, a co-parenting lawyer or mediator can be hired to handle the situation. And in cases where mediation fails, the custodial parent must file a petition in the court to move the child out-of-state.

When the court agrees to the custodial parent’s decision

California courts will usually compare the pros and cons of moving the child to a different location. It will look at factors like safety, health and development. If the court feels that the relocation will be beneficial for the child, it can agree to the custodial parent’s demand. However, it will also consider the non-custodial parent’s rights and decide if the relocation will have any negative effect on the parent.

In some cases, the court has the right to agree to the custodial parent’s demands unless there is gross violation of the custodial plan. In such cases, the court won’t consider the non-custodial pleas and will allow the custodial parent to relocate.


A custodial parent’s wish to move his/her children out-of-state depends on many factors. The non-custodial parent needs to agree to the relocation and must provide his/her consent on the agreement form before any change can take place. The court’s decision depends heavily on the child’s condition if the relocation takes place. Additionally, the court has the power to agree to the custodial parent and allow the parent and child to relocate despite what the non-custodial might feel.  The laws in California relating to “move-away” cases are complex and it is advisable to seek the advice of a family law attorney before considering a move with your child.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

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