When a parent plans to move with a child who is subject to a custody agreement, there are a variety of factors and laws that must be followed. Parents planning to relocate with the child should be familiar with California custody laws governing relocation before making any major decisions.
The first factor to consider is the wording of the initial custody agreement. In the agreement, a parent is usually granted sole or joint physical custody. A parent with sole physical custody often has the right to relocate unless the other parent can show that the move will harm the child in some way. If the parent has joint physical custody, the parent wanting to move must obtain the other parent's permission. If the other parent objects, the parent wishing to move must prove that the relocation is in the best interests of their child.
The custodial parent must usually give the other parent notice of the intended move. If the parent objects, then the custodial parent must obtain the judge's permission to relocate. There are a variety of factors the judge will consider. First is the distance of the move and whether or not the current custody arrangement will be affected. The judge will also consider what may benefit the child the most.
Moves of a long distance that cross state lines or require a change in the visitation agreement are more likely to be rejected without proof that the move serves the child's best interest. An attorney can help a client to understand their rights regarding relocation. They might also help the client build a case to present to the judge in order for the relocation to be allowed.
Source: California Courts, 'Move-Away Situations", Judicial Council of California, Dec. 11, 2014.
Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody Relocation Laws", December 09, 2014