Can I move to another city with my child? Any change of residence for a Californian in a co-parenting situation requires notice to the other parent.
But a “Move-Away” situation arises when one parent wants to relocate not just across town or two towns over, but far enough away that there will be disruption to the child's life and to the co-parent's rights.
A move-away case can be an incredibly complex situation from an emotional, logistical, and legal standpoint.
How the case turns out depends on the current custody arrangement, the distance of the move, the visitation schedule (both the schedule as agreed on legally and as it is actually practiced by each parent,) and most importantly, the children's relationship with the parents and their needs.
Requesting relocation can have a serious impact on the custody arrangement, up to and including the possibility of the court changing the custody arrangement based on the relocation request. A Los Angeles child custody attorney who understands the complexities of the situation can be key to making sure you get the outcome you want.
See related: Can My Ex-Spouse Take Our Child Out Of The Country?
Divorce and Change
Divorce and change just go together. In fact, disruptive change is a constant of nearly every divorce. With your divorce, you, your spouse, and your children will experience tumultuous change.
While it's hard to predict exactly how this change will evolve, the courts understand that change is inevitable. Some newly-single parents find that it's necessary to move to be near family, to find employment, or to improve their earning potential through further education.
In determining your request for relocation, the courts will pay close attention to the parenting plan that was drawn up during your divorce but will also consider your reason for relocating and the logistics of how your co-parenting plays out in real time. While no relocation request should ever be made lightly, there are instances when such requests are important, necessary, and worth pursuing.
What will I have to show in order to win my case?
Who has to make the case depends a lot on the current custody situation. If you are a parent with sole physical custody, generally, the burden will be on the other parent to show that the move would harm the children.
On the other hand, if you share joint custody with your co-parent, you will be the one who will have to show that the move is in your children's best interest. Either way, it's important to know that most courts consider stability to be incredibly important for children. Fundamentally, the issue comes down to what's in the child's best interest.
What do California courts consider when determining what's in the child's best interest?
When determining what is in the child's best interest, the court will consider a number of factors, including:
- The child's age (and presumed ability to handle the change);
- The child's wishes, if they can be properly expressed;
- The distance of the move;
- The child's relationship with each parent, and the relationship between the parents themselves;
- The reason for the move.
It's important to note on that last point that you don't have to justify your move – however, the judge will scrutinize your motivations if there's a reason to believe that the main reason for the move is to disrupt your co-parent's relationship with the children, and especially if there's a history of bad faith in the co-parenting relationship.
What if the Court Grants Your Ex a Relocation Request
If the court grants your ex a relocation request that allows them to move your children away from you, you will undoubtedly feel distraught. You don't, however, need to simply accept the situation; there are steps that you can take to continue cultivating and maintaining a close relationship with your children.
For instance, you can ask that the court take your ex's move into careful consideration and that the court adjust your visitation time accordingly – perhaps with every-other-holiday and extended summer-break visitations. And as difficult as long-distance parenting is, today's parents have the advantage of being able to connect via smartphone, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, and myriad other modes of electronic communication.
Contact a Qualified Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorney
Dealing with custody situations can be an emotionally draining process, not to mention a complex one. Hiring an experienced family law attorney can greatly increase your peace of mind about the process.
Furman & Zavatsky LLP has the experienced attorneys you need to assist you with custody issues. They can help you determine what your responsibilities and rights are under the law and under your current custody arrangement. Contact us today for a free, no risk consultation at 818-528-3471. Serving the greater Los Angeles area.