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California Divorce: What Happens When One Parent Wants to Move Away with the Children?

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Divorce results in a lot of changes. When parents divorce, those changes ripple through the entire family. Many parents move after a divorce. They may need to downsize, decrease expenses, or put space between their old life and their new life. Many parents change jobs. They may be seeking more stable employment now that they are a one-income household or looking for new opportunities, a higher income, more accommodating hours so they can be home more with their children, etc. Job changes often result in relocating as well. A judge cannot require that a California parent remains in the state after a divorce, but in some circumstances, when one parent relocates, a judge may change custody to serve the needs of the child or children involved in the case.

If a custodial parent’s relocation after divorce will negatively impact a child emotionally or physically, a judge may choose to transfer custody to accommodate the needs of the child. The issues to be considered in a relocation case involving disputed child custody can be complicated, and it is best to work with an experienced family law attorney when presenting the case. Being listed as the custodial parent in the original order is an advantage in relocation cases, but a noncustodial parent can overcome this advantage if there are certain factors.

A custodial parent has the right to change their residence or move into a different neighborhood with their child as long as the move does not interfere with the child’s rights or the child’s best interests. According to California state law, any parent in this situation must provide written notice of their plan to move with their child at least 45 days before moving. Advance notice allows parents involved to consider a new custody or visitation arrangement. It also allows the nonmoving parent the time to file an objection to the proposed relocation and request a child custody modification due to the changed circumstances of the case. Relocating after divorce does not mean automatically losing custody of your child. The court typically only changes custody in move-away cases if the move would severely, negatively impact the child. When one parent objects to the move, the judge schedules a hearing to determine if a change in custody or visitation is appropriate in the circumstances.  

Factors a California Judge Will Consider During a Relocation Hearing:

The child’s need for continuity and stability

The distance of the proposed move

Any harm that could come as a result of a change in custody

The child’s relationship with both of their parents

The parents’ relationship with each other and their ability to communicate

Any harm the move will have on the child’s relationship with the nonmoving parent

The reason for the proposed move

The needs of the child and how they are met by the move (emotional, physical, and educational needs)

The child’s extended family relationships in the present community and the new proposed location

Other factors the court considers relevant to determining what is in the child’s best interests If you are considering relocating after divorce and you need to discuss how it could affect your child custody order, or if your ex is relocating with your children and you need to consider requesting a child custody modification, please get in touch with the experienced California divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm today.



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