Custody Considerations in California When a Parent Wishes to Relocate
January 31, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- There are many reasons someone might want to move; another city could offer more affordable living, maybe a new job opportunity is available in a different location or perhaps it would mean being closer to loved ones. Whatever the reasons for a move, if it involves a divorced or separated parent, child custody and visitation arrangements will have to be taken into account.

Could will look to best interests of child in permitting or denying move

Under California law, the focus of a custody order is generally ensuring that both parents maintain frequent and continuing contact with their child or children. If parents have joint custody, the child will live with both parents almost equally according to a fixed schedule; if one parent has sole custody, it means that the child lives mostly with one parent, while the other has rights to see the child under the established visitation terms.

Whenever a parent with either sole or joint custody of a child wishes to move to a location that is far enough away to impact the current custodial arrangement, the parents will need new custody and visitation orders. Parents can either come to an agreement via negotiated modifications of custody arrangements, or may ask a family law court to intervene. The moving parent may file for permission to move with the child, or the non-moving parent may file a motion in an effort to keep the child at his or her current location. While a court cannot decide whether a parent can move -- individuals have a constitutional right to move -- it is able to decide whether the parent will be allowed to bring the child along.

The court's initial approach to a move-away case depends on whether the moving parent has sole custody or the parents have joint custody. A parent with sole custody has a presumptive right to move -- in other words, the court starts with the assumption that the moving parent should be able to relocate with the child. In a sole custody situation, the court will consider blocking the move only if the other parent can show that the move will create a change in circumstances and will be detrimental to the child. Showing detriment to the child can be difficult; although the impact of the move on the child's relationship with the nonmoving parent is an important consideration, this factor alone might not be enough to establish detriment to the child.

With joint custody, the parents enter court on an even playing field. The court will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

In deciding the best interests of the child, the court will consider many relevant evidentiary factors. The most important generally include:

- The distance of the move

- What the move would mean for the child's need to maintain a stable and continuous environment, including the status of the child's current ties to friends, school and community

- The age of the child

- The child's relationship with both parents

- How likely the moving parent is to facilitate contact between the child and the nonmoving parent

- Where the child wants to live, if the child is mature enough to express an informed preference

- The reasons for the move

A California family law attorney can help with your move-away case

Move-away cases are a complicated, ever-changing area of family law in California. While the court will always try to do what is in the best interests of the child, it can only make effective decisions when it is presented with good evidence that paints an accurate picture of the situation.

If you wish to move with your child, or if you are concerned about your former partner moving away with your child, you need to build a strong legal case that supports your point of view. Talk to a California family law attorney today about your move-away case.

Article provided by Law Office of Stettner & Morris
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