Child Custody & Relocations in California: How Courts Handle Them?

Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi A Professional Law Corporation Child Custody

Getting a divorce when children are involved can be a complex process. Sometimes, the complexities don’t necessarily end once a divorce has been finalized.

For example, at some point in the future, you or your ex may wish to move out-of-state. This will naturally impact custody and visitation arrangements.

How this scenario plays out will vary depending on several factors. This overview will help you better understand what might happen if you or your ex want to move with the kids after a custody agreement has already been made official.

How Custody Agreements Impact Relocations in California?

Per California Family Code 7501, and if there is no court order stating otherwise, if a parent is “entitled to custody” of their children, they have the right to change the residence of their child. They need to provide written notice of their plans to move at least 45 days in advance before doing so. While the other parent can attempt to show that such a move would be detrimental to a child, if they’re unable to present a strong case, it’s likely the court won’t prevent a parent from moving and taking the children with them.

However, this is only the case if a parent has sole custody of a child. If parents share joint custody of a child, neither parent automatically has the right to move away.

Will a California Family Court Allow for a Relocation? Important Factors?

When a parent doesn’t have the presumptive right to move with their children, the court may need to get involved.

The goal of a family court judge in California is always to make a decision that’s in the best interests of a child. When determining if a relocation is acceptable, they will account for such factors as:

  • Why a parent wants to move: Disrupting the routine to which a child has grown accustomed (and depriving them of the opportunity to spend time with one of their parents on a regular basis) isn’t a matter to be taken lightly. Thus, a judge might evaluate whether a parent’s reason for moving is strong enough to justify such a disruption.
  • Distance: Practical factors such as the distance between a child’s current home and their potential new home will influence a court’s decision when a relocation is being considered. A simple move over the state line may be less significant than a move halfway across the country.
  • The child’s relationship with their parents: If a child has a strong relationship with each parent and benefits from being raised by both of them, a court may not be inclined to allow for a relocation without being shown that a relocation would offer other significant advantages for the child.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list of the factors that must be accounted for in these cases. The main point to understand is that winning a relocation case may be complicated when a joint custody agreement is already in place.

Navigating these types of tricky situations is easier when you have professional legal assistance. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, a Westlake Village child custody and relocation attorney can provide the assistance you need. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 805-379-4550.

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