What Happens When the Custodial Parent Wants to Move Away?

When parents divorce, it is common for one of the parents to decide to move because they can no longer afford to live in Los Angeles County, so they can pursue a new job opportunity, or to move closer to family for help with finances, childcare, or emotional support.

Whatever the reason for the move, both parents will have to face difficult decisions regarding who the children will live with, and how the other parent will maintain frequent and continuous contact with the children.

If parents are lucky, they will agree on the move and can work out an alternative arrangement for child custody and visitation. However, these situations are often emotionally charged and logistically difficult for the parties, and an agreement is not easily achieved. When this happens, the future of the case is left to the courts.

Move-Away Cases in California

The laws regarding move-away cases in California are very complicated. If you want to move away with your children, you should talk to a San Fernando family attorney from Cutter & Lax.

Generally speaking, if a parent has sole physical custody, they can move away with their children unless the other parent is able to prove that such a move would harm the children.

If the parents have joint physical custody, and one parent is contesting the move, the parent who wishes to move with the children must show the court why moving is in the children's best interests.

Whether the move is to Santa Barbara or New York, if it affects the child custody arrangement (which it almost always does), the parents will need a modification to their existing child custody and visitation orders.

Heading to Court

If a parent wishes to move away with their child, one of the parents will have to file a motion for new custody orders. Usually, the moving parent files for permission to move with their child, while the other parent files a motion to change the custody arrangement so the child can stay.

Before the case falls into the judge's hands, the parents will mediate and try to come to an agreement about the move. If the mediation does not yield a satisfactory agreement, there will be a hearing and the court will have to decide on the issue.

If you are seeking to move away with your children and you anticipate that the other parent will contest such a move, or if you believe that the other parent is planning to move away with your children, it's best to talk to a member of our legal team to ensure that your parental rights are fully protected.