Sometimes a custodial parent wants to move far away from where the other parent resides to be closer to extended family, to seek better career opportunities, to be close to a new romantic partner or for other personal reasons. The divorced spouses may be able to agree on how they will alter their parenting time to accommodate the move, but if they don’t, the issue will be resolved by the California courts based on factors that can be complicated and confusing. If you’re a custodial parent that would like to move a substantial distance from your former spouse’s residence or your spouse is considering moving away from you with the children, it’s important to speak to a California family law attorney with experience handling this type of matter.

What Is a Move-Away Case?

California defines a move-away case as a situation that arises when a parent with custody decides to move to a location that’s so far away that it will disrupt the custodial arrangement that’s currently in place. The criteria is not based on the distance, but how greatly it impacts the ability of both parents to have access to the children. When a parent wants to move away, a change in custody or visitation orders is usually necessary. The issue is not whether the parent may move, but whether they may take the children with them when they do so. That’s why move-away cases often result in a change in custody from the parent that’s moving to the one that’s staying.

How Do Courts Decide Move-Away Cases?

The court will approach the case differently depending on whether the parent seeking to move has sole or joint custody. When parents have joint custody, the court will decide whether the move is in the best interests of the children, considering factors such as staying in the same school, ability to maintain a relationship with both parents, access to extended family and educational opportunities. If the moving parent has sole custody, they also have a presumptive right to move with the children, so the parent opposing the move will have the burden of proving a change of circumstances to obtain a revision of the custody order in order to bar the move.

The Evidentiary Hearing

To make a determination, the court will hold a formal evidentiary hearing to look at evidence and to hear testimony from live witnesses such as parents, child custody evaluators and other persons with information that is relevant to the proceedings. The children’s wishes will be considered if the court finds them mature enough to have a preference that’s based on solid reasoning. A child that’s fourteen years of age or older, must be offered the opportunity to testify at the hearing to express their preferences. Younger children may be allowed to testify with court approval.

California Move-Away Issues Attorney

If you’re considering moving with your children or are concerned about an anticipated move by your child’s other parent, it’s important to get legal advice immediately. Envision Family Law, LLP is trusted by parents in California due to its solid reputation for caring personal service and great results.