When a parent tries to move a child out of state or far away within state, it can trigger litigation which is heart- and gut-wrenching for all involved. There are several rules that attorneys and courts look to when evaluating a parent's attempt to relocate a child's residence where the result will be a drastic reduction in the child's time with the non-moving parent.
First, a custodial parent has a presumptive right to move. California Family Code Section 7501 typically favors a custodial parent's right to relocate with his or her child:
A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.
This statute is very broadly worded. What is a "parent entitled to custody of a child"? Which "rights or welfare" would be prejudiced so that the Court could "restrain a move"? Would the Court look at a non-moving parent differently if the child spent 20% of the time with the parent versus 40% of the time with the parent?
Does a non-moving parent have rights? Of course. Depending on the non-moving parent's level of custody, that parent would be entitled to 1) a meaningful mediation, 2) an evaluation, and 3) a hearing - before such a move could be ordered. During this process, the following factors may be examined depending on the circumstances:
Factors for Child Custody & Out-of-State Relocation
- What is the child's relationship with both parents?
- What relationship do the parents share – are they able to work together or not?
- Where is the intended relocation – how far is it?
- What harm may be caused by a change in custody, or what harm may be caused to the child's relationship with the parent who is not moving?
- What harm may the relocation do to the child's emotional, physical, and educational needs, or how would the move improve the latter?
- To what extent does the child need continuity and stability?
- Is there extended family is either the current location or the new location?
- What is the reason for the relocation?
It is important to remember that each case is unique and so some of the above factors may not apply while other factors not listed may apply. The court will review the request in its entirety as opposed to considering only the parent's reason for the request to relocate.
Jeffrey L. Hoffer is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He helps his clients understand how custody works and what the court factors into it when making a decision. If you want to move out of California and still have custody of your child (or want to contest a relocation), there are some things to consider. If you still have questions, contact Hoffer Family Law Firm to learn more.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Thousand Oaks Today
Child custody and relocation cases can get complicated pretty quickly, especially when the non-moving parent wants to contest the custodial parent's wish to move out of California with their child(ren). Whether you are the parent who wants to relocate or the parent who objects to the relocation, this is not the type of family law matter you should handle on your own.
At Hoffer Family Law Firm, we have a team of committed, compassionate, and passionate legal staff who know the law, the courts, and what's in the best interests of the child. Contact our law office in the Thousand Oaks, California area to learn more about our approach to child custody and relocation. We want what's best for your child as much as we want what's best for you, and if that's relocation, we will help you get the approval by a family law court.