People move for many reasons, including to relocate for a job, for financial circumstances, or to achieve a lifestyle change. Anyone who has a child and is considering moving will have to think about the impact of the move on the child. This is especially true when the child has another parent with custody or visitation rights.
In California, parental relocation, also known as a move-away case, is governed by child custody laws. No two situations are the same, and the courts consider a multitude of factors in deciding if allowing the child to relocate is in their best interest.
In a family court judge’s eyes, the well-being of a child is always a more compelling factor than the wants and needs of a parent. Therefore, if a judge believes that the parent/child bond will be weakened or damaged by relocation, the move may be disallowed. This decision will not be affected by whatever negative impact will result for the parent. Parents in this position can lose access to their own family or support network or be prevented from taking a better job if the other parent decides to protest the move in court.
Parents who are stuck in this scenario should examine their motives for wanting to relocate. If the move does not directly benefit their children, it may be better to remain in place and work out a parenting agreement that everyone can agree to. However, if the move would mean a significant improvement in the lives of both parent and child, it may be best to pursue the matter in court.
California family courts cannot prevent a parent from moving. Custodial parents have the legal right to relocate with their child, if the courts believe that the move does not negatively impact the child. They can, however, prevent a child from moving when that child is subject to a parenting plan or other child custody order. If you have custody of a child under such an order and you are considering relocation, you should always consult an attorney about your options.
If a custodial parent wants to move—whether within a county, out of a county, or out of state—he or she may need to present evidence to a court that the move is in the best interests of the child. If relocating for over 30 days, the parent must state this in writing to the courts.
As articulated in the landmark case, In Re Marriage of Burgess, custodial parents in California have a presumptive right to move with the child. However, that right can be overcome if the other parent objects and presents evidence that the move would harm the child’s interests. In some cases, custody can be transferred from one parent to the other.
Non-custodial parents do not need permission from the court to move. However, they may end up forfeiting their visitation rights, or the parenting plan may need to be modified to accommodate the move. If you are a non-custodial parent considering relocation, our lawyers can help you pursue the best strategies for continuing your relationship with your child.
Whether you are a parent wishing to relocate, or a parent seeking to prevent a move-away, contact our Roseville relocation lawyers to discuss your concerns regarding the child custody implications of a parental relocation. Call (916) 797-1575 today.
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