Parental relocation is a complex area of family law that often requires hiring an attorney. Relocation or move-away cases can be stressful, confusing and emotionally draining. Regardless of the distance of the proposed move, this legal issue requires guidance from an experienced Marin County family law attorney. If you have a parental relocation case, contact Schoenberg Family Law Group for assistance.
Marin County Parental Relocation Attorney Quick Links
- Parental Relocation Laws in California
- Factors The Courts Look Into
- Information About Child Relocation
- Parental Relocation Request Process
- Altering Parenting Plans
- Contact Our Parental Relocation Attorneys
What Does California Law Say About Parental Relocation?
A custodial parent can relocate a child in California with permission from the other parent or the court. In California, CA Family Code Section 7501 gives a parent the right to relocate or move away with a child if that parent has custody. The law states that a parent can lawfully change the resident of a child, subject to the power of the court to prevent a relocation that would hurt the rights or welfare of the child.
According to CA Family Code Section 3040, when making a child custody order, the court will consider (among other factors) which parent is most likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the other parent. Keep this in mind if you are attempting to relocate with your child. The courts will decide your relocation case in part based on whether it will interfere with the child’s ability to maintain consistent and meaningful contact with the other parent.
What Do the Courts Look at to Decide a Parental Relocation Case?
A judge will carefully review the facts of your parental relocation case before deciding to grant or reject the request. While many different factors can affect a judge’s decision in a move-away case, the main focus is the “detriment and best interest of the child.” A judge will take an in-depth look into the child’s life to determine how a move would affect his or her wellbeing, looking at factors such as:
- Whether or not the move is necessary
- The distance of the proposed move and whether it will interfere with the other parent’s custody
- The strength of the child’s connections with his or her community and friends
- The child’s physical, mental and emotional needs
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The parents’ abilities to work together and communicate
- Whether the move will inflict harm on the child
Typically, a judge will sign off on a child relocation request if both parents agree. If both parents allow a move-away, a judge will accept it, as long as it will not hurt the child’s welfare. If, however, one parent does not agree to the relocation, both parents must present the case to the family court in Marin County.
Can You Relocate Your Child Without a Move-Away Order?
The answer to this question is typically no. Even if you and your spouse agree on the relocation, you must submit your request to the courts and obtain the signature of a judge. If you or your ex-spouse moves away without a court order, the custodial parent could face criminal penalties under California Penal Code Section 278.5 (the state’s child abduction law).
Rather than risking child abduction charges – which can come with up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 in California – go through the proper channels to obtain a valid move-away order from a judge. You can do this by submitting a request that states that you and your ex-spouse both agree to the relocation, if applicable, or by going to court to argue your side of the case if the other parent wishes to fight the move. Either way, make sure you have a court’s permission before moving away with your child.
What If My Ex Changed My Child’s Residence Without My Permission?
If your ex-spouse moved away with your child without your permission, you may have legal rights if your ex did not have a court order granting the relocation. If a judge did grant your ex-spouse permission, however, your options may be limited. Contact a family law attorney as soon as you find out that your co-parent plans on moving. An attorney can help make sure your voice is heard in the court system before the move.
Can a Parent Relocate a Child Out of the Country?
Yes, a parent can relocate a child out of the country; however, these relocation cases are more difficult for the moving parent to win. Since the child’s life will drastically change and the relocation will greatly interfere with the other parent’s ability to visit with the child, a judge may not agree that the move is in the child’s best interests. Only in limited circumstances would a judge grant a parent permission to relocate a child out of the country.
How Do I Begin a Parental Relocation Request?
If you wish to initiate a parental relocation or move-away request in Marin County, consult with a lawyer about how to begin the process. A lawyer can help you appropriately frame your request in a way that proves to a judge the move will not interfere with the child’s best interests or the other parent’s relationship with the child. If your ex-spouse is requesting parental relocation and you wish to challenge it, a lawyer can help you prove your child would be better off staying put.
What Does the Legal Process for Parental Relocation Look Like?
As soon as the relocating parent knows that he or she wishes to move out of the city, state or country for longer than 30 days, he or she will provide written notice of the plan to move to the other parent. The moving parent must provide this notice at least 45 days before the proposed move-out date. This gives both parents time to communicate with each other and work out a new parenting plan. If the nonmoving parent wishes to object to the relocation, this will also give that parent time to argue his or her case in court.
If the parents cannot agree on the relocation, the case will go to the same court in Marin County that created the original child custody agreement. Both parents – and their attorneys, if applicable – will arrive at the courthouse on their hearing date. The judge will listen to information, arguments and evidence from both sides of the case. Then, the judge will assess what is in the child’s best interest to determine the outcome of the case. How long it takes a relocation case to be resolved depends on its complexity.
Altering Parenting Plans and Visitation Schedules
Moving away with a child, whether it is contested by the other parent or not, will require alterations to existing custody, visitation and parenting plans. The parents or the court will need to establish new custody and visitation schedules based on the distance that will now separate both parents. These decisions will be made based on what is best for the child and what is reasonably practicable for the noncustodial parent, who will now need to traverse a longer distance to visit with his or her child. A family law attorney can help you modify your parenting plan based on your changing situation and your child’s needs.
Contact the Schoenberg Family Law Group When You Need Experienced Legal Representation
When the outcome of a case matters as much as one proposing parental relocation, trust a family law attorney to navigate the legal system to your greatest advantage. The attorneys at Schoenberg Family Law Group work hard and approach each case with personalized legal services. Whether or not a move takes place, know that you can still function as a family. Our experienced lawyers will do everything we can to make the legal process stress-free.
To speak with a Marin County parental relocation attorney today, please call 866.963.8623 or contact us online.