A move-away or relocation case refers to a situation where one parent seeks to move a child to a new city, county, state or country. After a divorce, these situations can arise for a variety of reasons, but occur most often when the parent with primary custody wishes to move or gets relocated for a job.
Move-away and relocation cases are some of the most complex family law matters in California. No matter how close or far away the projected move is, this is a difficult legal issue that requires guidance from a family law attorney with experience in move-away cases.
If you have a parental move-away or relocation case, contact the lawyers at Schoenberg Family Law Group for legal assistance. The knowledge and skill of an attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case, whether you are a parent wishing to relocate or seeking to prevent a move-away order.
The Move-Away Process
In California, a custodial parent may only move away with a child with permission from the other parent or the court. California Family Code Section 7501 states that a parent given custody of a child has the right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court.
Child relocation requires a new custody or visitation agreement to be created either by the child’s parents or ordered by a judge. A relocation will only be permitted if it will not interfere with the child’s best interests. This is a big “if” that requires an in-depth look into the child’s life and how a move might affect his or her wellbeing.
California Family Code Section 3040 states that the court will always try to make custody and visitation orders that ensure the child maintains frequent and continuing contact with both parents. It is important to frame a move-away request or argue against a relocation claim with this in mind.
Your request should show that the move-away will not interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child. If you are seeking to prevent a move-away order, on the other hand, your argument should show that the move will get in the way of your relationship with your child. A lawyer can help you appropriately frame your case based on its specific factors.
Detriment and Best Interests of the Child
If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree to a new custody arrangement with a move, you will have to bring the matter before a family court judge in California. A judge will look at many different factors to decide whether the move would protect the child’s best interests, welfare and wellbeing.
- Whether the proposed move is necessary or frivolous.
- The child’s connections with his or her community, friends, classmates and other local family members.
- The child’s physical, medical and emotional needs.
- The child’s relationship with each parent.
- The child’s age (and the child’s wishes, if he or she is mature enough).
- The distance of the proposed move.
- Whether the distance will affect the other parent’s accessibility to the child.
- Both parents’ abilities to communicate with each other.
- Any harm the move might inflict on the child.
Ultimately, a judge will decide on a move-away claim based on whether the move would be detrimental to the child. Detrimental means the move would adversely affect the child, most likely because it would take away frequent and continuing contact with the other parent. If the answer is yes, the judge will not grant the request. If the answer is no, the custodial parent may be given the legal right to relocate.
Can I Relocate My Child Without a Move-Away Order?
The answer to this question depends on your situation. If you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement on custody and visitation, you can submit this agreement to the courts for approval. The courts will sign off on the new order as long as it does not go against the best interests of the child.
If, however, you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on a new custody arrangement, you will have no choice but to file a request with the court. You must file a move-away claim with supporting evidence showing that the move would not interfere with your co-parent’s right to have frequent and continuous contact with your child.
Should you choose to relocate with your child without a court order, you can face criminal penalties under California Penal Code Section 278.5. This law states that taking, keeping or withholding a child and maliciously depriving a lawful custodial parent of a right to custody or visitation can mean jail time of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Conversely, if your ex-spouse has moved your child away without your agreement to a new custody arrangement or a move-away order from the courts, you can take legal action. Hire a family law attorney to help you petition the courts for a resolution. Your lawyer can help you take the necessary steps to hold your ex-spouse accountable, protect your rights as a parent and safeguard your child.
Why You Need a Move-Away or Relocation Attorney
Move-away or relocation matters in California are determined on a case-by-case basis. A judge will carefully review the facts of each case before deciding whether to grant a move-away request. Thus, it is critical that you hire an experienced move-away attorney who understands the laws connected to your case and how to navigate them to your best advantage.
At Schoenberg Family Law Group, our lawyers approach each case with tailored legal services. We work hard to successfully resolve move-away cases with custody arrangements that work for everyone involved. Know that even after a move, you can still function as a family. Our lawyers will do everything we can to make the legal process as simple and stress-free as possible.
Choose Schoenberg Family Law Group When It Matters Most
We understand the emotions that come with a move-away case. We realize that the thought of your child moving to a different place can be heartbreaking. If you are the parent with primary custody, a relocation case can take an emotional toll on you as well, due to friction with your co-parent.
Hiring a lawyer from Schoenberg Family Law Group can allow your family to work through a move-away/relocation case with as little conflict as possible. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys know California’s custody laws in and out. We are prepared to fight for the best outcome on behalf of you and your child.
To speak with a family law attorney, please call 866.963.8623 or contact us online for a consultation.