A relocation or move-away case occurs when a parent wants to move to a different city, county, state, or even country, and take the children with them. If the parties are not in agreement with the requested move, the court may be called upon to determine whether the children will be allowed to move. The court cannot prohibit a parent from moving, but can prohibit a parent from taking the children with them when they move. The court must consider whether it would be in the best interest of the children to change custody to the other parent if the parent moves. In California, the law provides that a parent who has a final order for physical custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child. This is subject to the power of the court to stop a move that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.
Answers to two initial questions the court must determine are: (1) Does a parent have a final custody order? and (2) What is meant by prejudicing the rights or welfare of the child in a particular case to a particular family?
The court will look at the circumstances of each individual case in evaluating a move away request. Often, a counseling assessment is performed to give guidance to the parties and to the court on whether or not the move would prejudice the rights or welfare of the children. Several factors must be addressed when presenting a case to the court for a decision to allow a move away or to contest a move away. The California Supreme Court set forth several factors for a court to evaluate when considering a request for a move away. These factors include:
- The children’s interest in stability and continuity of the custodial arrangement
- Primary parent’s proven ability to care for the children
- The distance of the move
- The age of the children
- The children’s relationship with both parents
- The relationship between the parents, including their ability to communicate and cooperate effectively, and their willingness to put the interests of the children above their individual interests
- The wishes of the children if they are mature enough for the court to consider their wishes
- The reason for the move
- The extent to which the parents are currently sharing custody
- The availability of special education and medical care facilities, if relevant Level of parental animosity and past conduct as an indicator of the best future arrangement
A move away case has a tremendous impact on the parents and on the children involved.
If you are involved in a move away or relocation situation, you should consult with a competent attorney to help you through the process. At the Law Office of Barbara J. May, we are experienced in handling all types of modification of child custody and visitation cases. We have extensive experience in relocation cases. Contact a skilled relocation attorney If you need legal assistance with a relocation case in Monterey County, call the Law Office of Barbara J. May today at 831.649.1253.