Moving is a stressful experience even under the best circumstances, but moving as a divorced parent can be a particularly complicated endeavor. Divorcing couples almost always seek separate residences after ending their marriage, and sometimes one parent decides to move to a new area entirely. Whether they receive an exciting job opportunity in another state, want to be closer to family for support, can no longer afford to live in the same neighborhood, or simply desire a fresh start, parental relocation is common. In an ideal situation, both parents can cooperate to agree on where their child should reside and how to plan a visitation arrangement that works for all parties. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
If you are hoping to relocate and your ex is fighting for child custody, or your former spouse wants to relocate and you are opposed to the move, call our firm. It is crucial to secure legal representation from a Carlsbad relocation lawyer right away. Review the information below to learn more about your rights and obligations as a parent under California law, then contact Paula D. Kleinman to discuss your case.
When married parents undergo the divorce process, they either develop a child custody agreement on their own and have it approved by a judge, or a judge makes a custody determination based on the child’s best interests. Most judges prefer to grant joint custody because extensive research has demonstrated that having an active relationship with both parents positively impacts a child’s development and welfare.
A judge may decide that the child should live with both parents and split their time per the terms of a court-approved schedule (joint physical custody) or that the child should live with one parent who will remain responsible for the child’s daily care (primary physical custody). In a custody proceeding, the “custodial parent” is the parent who resides with the child the majority of the time and is directly responsible for the child’s needs. The “noncustodial parent” will typically be awarded visitation rights and retains certain other parental rights under the law.
Child custody orders often include geographic restrictions for parental moves (fifty miles from the county where the child lives is typical) and require mutual consent for relocating children in any way that would disrupt the custody order. If the moving parent’s new residence is within the range specified in the custody order, they do not need permission to move with the child but must update their address with the other parent and the court to avoid violating the existing visitation schedule. If the new residence lies outside this range, the parents can work together to reach a new agreement and have it approved by the court. If they can’t agree, they must evaluate the current custody order to determine which steps to take next.
When a permanent child custody court order grants a parent primary physical custody, this parent has the “presumptive right” to move with the child. This right allows them to move to a different area with the child without court approval. However, they must file written notice of any plan to move with the child for more than 30 days and send this notice to the other parent at least 45 days before the proposed move. This gives both parents time to create a new custody or visitation agreement and gives the non-moving parent a chance to voice any objections. If the non-moving parent contests the relocation, they can file an objection with the court to reevaluate the custody agreement. This parent carries the burden of proof, meaning they must prove that the move would be detrimental to the child’s well-being before the judge will modify custody.
If the parents share joint custody, neither has a presumptive right to move, and the moving parent must submit a formal “move-away” order with the court. After the order is filed, a hearing will be set where both presents appear before a judge to present their side of the case. This judge reviews the evidence to determine whether a custody change is appropriate for the child and would serve their best interests. They will evaluate the following factors:
In most cases, the judge will also order a custody evaluation during which a psychologist meets with the child and makes recommendations for a parenting schedule that would work in the child’s best interests after the proposed move.
The matter will then move on to an official hearing. The judge will either grant or deny the move-away request at this hearing. If it is denied, the moving parent can still relocate but might be forced to give up primary custody of the child if they do so. If the request is granted, the terms of the new custody and visitation agreement are finalized in a court order, which is filed with the county clerk and becomes legally enforceable.
Parental relocation issues can be incredibly confusing and difficult to resolve, but a Carlsbad move away attorney can advocate for your interests. Whether you are a custodial parent who wants to relocate or a noncustodial parent who does not want your child to move, Paula D. Kleinman can help you understand your options and determine the best solution for your family. Contact us today to learn more about what our firm can do for you.
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