Child custody arrangements often are delicate. Parents who might have gone through a difficult divorce now find themselves having to cooperate about raising their children. Disputes often arise. One difficult situation is when a custodial parent wants to relocate and take the kids with them. Sometimes the courts have to get involved, so it’s important to understand what factors courts consider when faced with a move-away case.
Details About the Move
In move-away cases, one of the most important factors is the reason the parent wants to relocate. Frivolous reasons for moving are unlikely to be approved. However, moving to be near family or to get a higher-paying job might sway the judge depending on the other factors considered in a move-away case.
The distance also plays a part. There’s a big difference between a parent that wants to move a few hundred miles away and a parent who wants to move across the country. Judges will consider the distance when making their decisions.
California courts award the following basic types of custody:
- Legal custody, joint or sole; and
- Physical custody, joint or sole.
Generally, a parent with sole physical custody has the “presumptive right” to move away. The other parent has to prove that the move will be detrimental to the children.
Courts will review how parents are handling their current custody and visitation before deciding a move-away case. The focus will be on maintaining stability and continuity in the custodial arrangements whenever possible.
Relationships Matter in a Move-Away Case
Another important factor considered when deciding a move-away case involves relationships:
- Parents’ relationships with each other. Are the parents able to handle the current custody arrangements? More importantly, are they able to set aside their own wishes to put their children’s interests first?
- The child’s relationship with each parent. Does the child have strong relationships with both parents? In some cases, the court may agree to let one parent move away from a parent who does not show any interest in maintaining relationships with the kids.
Because courts decide custody and visitation cases to support the best interests of the child, judges will consider the kids’ needs.
The Children Themselves
Ages might affect the judge’s decision. A younger child might have more trouble sustaining a relationship with a distant parent than an older child.
Do the children have strong community ties? If they live near close friends and participate in school, church, or extracurricular activities, judges might be reluctant to upend their lives.
Courts also look at whether children have any special health or educational needs. For example, relocating might be detrimental to a child currently undergoing treatment for a serious disease.
Finally, the children might have strong feelings about whether to move or not. Courts might take this into consideration when determining whether to grant a move-away case.
Handling Your Move-Away Case Can Be Exhausting. We Can Help.
The court’s decision generally comes down to one primary, all-important, fundamental principle: Doing what is in the child’s best interests.
Child custody issues are complicated. Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Diego, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.