When one parent wants to move away with the children

Many aspects of divorce come with a sense of closure: You move out of the family home, you divide your assets, you sign the final papers and start the next chapter in your life. If you and your ex have young children, child custody is not like that. Among other things, you will have to continue to cooperate with your ex for drop-offs and pick-ups, and you will have to consult with them about important matters such as the health and education of your child.

You can work all this out in a parenting plan, but even he best crafted plan should be considered a work in progress. A lot can change after the ink is dry on your agreement. You will need to revise it from time to time in order to meet your needs, the other parent’s needs and, most importantly, your child’s needs.

One big change that happens to many parents is relocation. Sometimes a parent decides to move far away, rendering a parenting plan unworkable. If the parent decides to move away with the child, things can get very hard for the other parent. Of course, if both parents agree to the move, they can make modifications to their parenting plan, and to any issues such as a child support order. However, if one parent objects to the move, things get trickier. Each parent has rights, and the clash of these rights can make for a difficult case.

‘Move-away’ situations

California law refers to these cases as “move-away” situations, and their resolution generally depends on the terms of the parents’ child custody order. Depending on which type of custody arrangement the parents have, one parent or the other will have the burden of convincing the court that their argument should prevail.

If one parent has a permanent order specifying they have sole physical custody of the child, they are generally free to move somewhere new with the child unless the other parent convinces the court that the move is not in the child’s best interests.

If the parents have an order specifying joint physical custody, the burden falls on the parent who wants to move. In these cases, this parent must convince the court that the move is in the child’s best interests.

Complicating factors

Move-away cases can get somewhat more complicated when the parent wishes to move with the child to another state. They can get especially difficult when the parent wants to move with the child to another country. But even a case where a child moves from one end of California to another can make a big difference in a parent’s life. Skilled legal advice can be important both for parents who want to move with a child and parents who want their chlid to stay near.