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Child Custody: What Happens When One Parent Wants to Move Out of State

Child custody situations where a child’s parents live separately can be tough to navigate. Parents often spend a great deal of time and effort reaching child custody and visitation arrangements that work best for them and their child. However, when one parent wants to move out of state with a child and the other parent disagrees, child custody and visitation can immediately become hotly contested issues. As a result, you should consult a family law attorney from Evans Kingsbury LLP to assist you in resolving complex child custody issues.

Your Custody Order and Your Rights to Move Out of State

Generally, under California Family Code § 7501, when a parent has a final court order for sole or primary physical custody of a child, they can move away with the child unless the other parent can show that the move would be harmful to the child.

On the other hand, if you share joint physical custody with your child’s other parent, in that the parent has significant periods of physical custody of the child, a parent does not have a presumptive right to move. Assuming your child’s other parent does not want you to move, you must prove that your proposed move is in the child’s best interests.

If you share a child with someone, and there are no court orders about custody, then your intended move out of state with the child may prompt the other party to file a request for a custody order in court. You also can initiate custody proceedings and seek a sole custody order in anticipation of moving.

Ultimately, a court cannot stop a parent from moving out of state or wherever they choose. However, a court can make custody decisions about your child based on the assumption that you have moved or are going to move out of state.

Filing a Move-Away Request in Court

    If you have joint custody and the other parent opposes your move, you must file a “move-away” request with the court and notify the other parent of your intent to move. The court then will determine what custody arrangements are in the child’s best interests in light of the parent’s intended move. The “best interests” standard is the same standard that a court uses in any custody case under California law. Some of the factors that the court may consider include:
  • • The reasons for the parent’s move
  • • How far away the parent plans to move
  • • The nature of the current physical custody arrangement, or how much time each parent spends with the child
  • • The child’s relationship and bond with each parent
  • • The child’s age (If your child is old enough, the court may also ask the child about their preferences in terms of the proposed move and custody arrangements.)
  • • The parents’ relationship with one another and their ability to communicate and put their child’s needs above their own
  • • The impacts on the child’s physical, mental, and social health

A move-away request may be more successful if a parent has a good reason for the move, such as a lucrative job transfer or a return to that parent’s home state to be near family members. On the other hand, moving solely to get away from the child’s other parent or to be with a significant other are not likely good reasons to support a move, especially if it would create a significant distance between the child and their other parent.

Call a Child Custody Attorney at Evans Kingsbury LLP Today

Child custody and family law cases are among the most challenging, emotional, and time-consuming cases you can go through. The assistance of an experienced California family law attorney can be crucial to a positive outcome in your case. Contact Evans Kingsbury LLP today by calling (707) 596-6090 or visiting us online, and learn more about how we can assist you with your family law case.

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