Parental relocation and child custody

How Does Parental Relocation Work in California?

How Does Parental Relocation Work in California?

Child custody is an important element in divorce proceedings and establishes clear guidelines for both physical and legal custody in California. Physical custody is where the child primarily lives and what visitation schedule a non-custodial parent may have. Legal or decision-making custody concerns which parent(s) has the authority to make major decisions about their child’s life, including healthcare, education, and religion.

If you are planning to move out of the state with your child, the law requests that you follow a certain process and that you meet appropriate requirements for a judge to grant you the request prior to moving. The other parent also has the legal right to contest your request.

An important thing to keep in mind is that a court cannot prevent you, the parent, from moving out of state. Their jurisdiction only affects whether your child can relocate as well.

If you are planning to move out of state with your child, contact The Law Offices of Makupson & Howard at (888) 328-2734 to schedule an appointment with one of our child custody lawyers in Pasadena.

Sole Versus Joint Custody

Parental relocation (Also known as “Move-Away”) can work differently depending on your existing child custody agreements. If you have sole custody of your child, you have the right to move out of state with your child as long as it does not interfere with your child’s rights and is in their best interests.

While child custody modifications can happen in any move-away case, they are more likely to happen if you and your former spouse have joint physical custody. Indeed, your agreement needs to account for travel time and other changes the new distance brings. A judge may also decide that the child lives with one parent during the school year and with the other during the summer to ensure the child has sufficient time with both parents.

What Is the Law for Move-Away Cases in California?

Under California Family Code 7501, a parent “entitled to custody” has the presumptive right to move away. This right is not absolute and depends on whether a judge rules that the move supports the child’s best interests.

If the other parent challenges the relocation request, they have the “substantial burden” of proving that the move would negatively affect their child. Each situation is unique and given the complexity of family law, working with a compassionate and experienced attorney can help you build your case.

How Do You Petition for Relocation as the Custodial Parent in California?

If you are the parent planning to relocate, you should make sure to follow the appropriate steps. You need to file a move-away request with your local family court that in turn usually schedules a first hearing date a couple of months later. This time frame provides time for you and your co-parent to discuss the relocation project and negotiate custody matters.

The court may order a psychological evaluation to determine whether the move and the proposed new parenting and visitation schedule are beneficial for the child. In California, you must share your intention to move out of state in written form with your co-parent at least 45 days before the intended move.

Although moves can happen suddenly, making sure you communicate with the other parent as soon as possible can make a positive difference in how the Judge will evaluate your move-away petition.

You must be prepared to show how beneficial the move is for your child, so you are ready to present information to the court and answer the judge’s questions during your hearing.

What Are Your Options as a Non-Custodial Parent?

If you contest the other parent’s petition to move out of state, you must prove that the move would negatively affect your child’s life. Although negotiations can make a positive difference in this type of case, you also need to prepare the evidence that your child would fare better if remaining in California.

Demonstrating that your child should stay in their current state can include demonstrating that they have better educational opportunities or more local family and friends, including grandparents or other relatives they have a close relationship with.

When you file your objection with the court, you may request a modification to your current custody agreement or even ask for sole custody.

What Factors Does a California Judge Consider When Reviewing a Parental Relocation Request?

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act or UCCJEA, a Judge mainly bases their decisions on a child’s best interests, including for move-away petitions.

A California judge usually assesses the following factors:

  • The reasons behind the relocation
  • The distance of the move
  • The existing custody court order
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The parents’ ability to communicate and work together
  • How the move will affect the child’s quality and stability of life

The court may also ask your child for their opinion if they are old enough, usually over 12 years of age. Under California Family Code Section 3040, a Judge always tries to issue a ruling that promotes the child’s ability to maintain “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents.

Work with an Experienced Child Custody Attorney

A deep understanding of the law and preparing accordingly for your hearing are vital for a successful move-away case. This is true whether you are the move-away petitioning parent or a non-custodial one who challenges your child’s relocation.

At The Law Offices of Makupson & Howard, our family law attorneys can advise you at every step of the process and help you gather reasonable evidence to present to the court to support your argument. We understand you understand your child’s needs, and we are here to help protect your parental rights and your child’s best interests.

Contact The Law Offices of Makupson & Howard today at (888) 328-2734 for more information about our legal services to help you plan or challenge a parental relocation request in Pasadena.
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