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Parental relocation and custody disputes in California: What to know

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2022 | Child Custody

You breathed a sigh of relief when your divorce was finally over. It meant a fresh start and a new life – except you’re still somewhat tied to your ex through the child you share.

What happens, then, if you decide that the only way to prosper in your new reality is to move to a new location? Relocating yourself isn’t a problem, but taking your child with you might be.

How much will this move benefit or harm your child?

This is the primary issue that you have to consider – because it’s the primary issue that the courts will consider when you want to move a significant distance away.

What’s considered significant? There’s no hard-and-fast distance written into the law, but you can probably expect the court to consider anything more than 50 miles away to be automatically disruptive. Even lesser moves could be scrutinized, however, if it involves disrupting the child’s current custody and visitation plan.

Your co-parent has the right to argue against the move, even if you have sole physical custody. That means you need to be prepared to show why the benefits of this move outweigh all negatives and all other interests – even your own. This means framing your argument on behalf of the move very carefully. For example:

  • You want to move so that you can take advantage of a great new job opportunity, and the increased income will improve your child’s standard of living.
  • You want to move closer to extended family members who can watch your child while you go to school or work, which will keep them out of daycare all the time.
  • You want to move so that your child has better educational opportunities in a different school system or access to better medical care (if the child has health issues).

The court will also look at your willingness and ability to foster a healthy, long-distance relationship between your child and your co-parent. Be ready to talk about how you expect visitation to work, paying for travel costs and the use of electronic visitation to keep connections open.

A custody battle can be rough, and you don’t want to go through it alone. Experienced legal guidance can help you find a solution that works for your family’s unique situation.