Can You Relocate With Your Child After a Divorce in California?

Can You Relocate With Your Child After a Divorce in California

Can You Relocate With Your Child After a Divorce in California?

When a divorce involves children, a child custody order must be implemented to dictate how the parents will share responsibility for them. Because a child custody agreement is a legal order that often gives parenting time to both spouses, one parent cannot simply move away with their child whenever they please. Instead, the parent who would like to relocate must follow the required legal procedures to request permission to do so.

If you are considering relocating, it is imperative to know if you are eligible to move away with your child after a California divorce.

Are You Able to Relocate With Your Child After a Divorce?

In California, only certain parents have the right to relocate with their children after a divorce. A parent-child relocation is considered to be any move that has the ability to impact an active child custody agreement or is at least 50+ miles away from their current home. Child relocation cases are commonly called “move-aways” in California, as they result in a child moving out of state. In any California move-away case, the right of the parent to relocate depends largely on their current child custody order. Other factors that can impact the ability of a parent to relocate with their kids include:

  • If the out-of-state move is in the child’s interests
  • If the move has an impact on the child custody order and whether a new one has to be made
  • How old the child is
  • How far away the move is
  • The relationship that a child shares with each parent
  • The relationship that parents have with one another

Child Custody’s Impact on a Move-Away Case

The type of child custody agreement that you and your ex-spouse share will have the greatest impact on your move-away case. The following are your rights in varying child custody scenarios:

Sole Custody

Parents who have sole custody do not need permission from the noncustodial parent to move with their child. However, parents with sole custody are mandated to give the noncustodial parent notice of their move. This notice must be sent at least 45 days before the actual move occurs. If the noncustodial parent has issues with the move, they can attempt to dispute it. To do this, they must demonstrate that the out-of-state move is not in their child’s interest. If the non-custodial parent does not dispute the move, it is up to a judge to decide whether it is beneficial for the child.

Joint Custody

California move-away cases tend to become more complicated when parents share joint custody. This is because a relocation can unfairly impact one parent’s ability to be with their child. Similarly to cases involving sole custody, a parent who wishes to move must give their co-parent at least 45 days’ notice before the move takes place. If the co-parent does not sign off on the out-of-state move, a judge will have to decide what is right for the child. The parent who wants to relocate must prove to a judge that the move would be beneficial for their child and their welfare. Oppositely, the co-parent who disputes the move must prove that it would negatively impact their child.

Defining the Best Interests of a Child

In any legal proceeding that involves children, the state of California asks that judges make their decisions based on what they believe is in the interests of the children. This means that, even if a parent has the legal right to relocate with their child, a judge can deny their move-away request if they believe that it can harm the child. When finding solutions for child custody agreements and move-aways, a judge looks at these elements to consider a child’s interest:

  • Their age
  • Their current health
  • Their relationships with their parents
  • If they require unique care to stay healthy or stable
  • If there have been suspicions of abuse
  • If they are safe with either parent

Can You Relocate With Your Child After a Divorce in California?


Q: Are You Allowed to Move Out-of-State With Your Child After a Divorce?

A: In most circumstances, the same rules that apply to an in-state move-away case will apply to an out-of-state one as well. The largest elements that will affect your right to relocate will be your child custody order and whether a judge believes that the move is ideal for your child’s welfare. If you are trying to move outside of California, you should prepare to demonstrate how the move will benefit both you and your child.

Q: Do You Need a Lawyer in a California Move-Away Case?

A: If you’d like to relocate with your child after a divorce, it’s critical to do so with the help of a skilled family lawyer. A family lawyer can assist you in navigating your custody case. They can help ensure that you avoid extra legal obstacles that can impact your ability to move. They can also help demonstrate why moving is in your child’s interest when disputes arise in court.

Q: Can a Noncustodial Parent Move Away With Their Child?

A: Unfortunately, it is often quite challenging for noncustodial parents to earn more rights to their child. However, that doesn’t mean that it cannot happen. If you are a noncustodial parent who is afraid for the safety of your child, you may be able to petition for a modification of your custody agreement. If you win, you may receive more custody rights or even gain sole custody, which would then give you the power to relocate with your child as you wish.

Q: Do Custody Orders Change in Move-Away Cases?

A: Most move-away cases require modifications to active child custody orders. This is because the order will need to demonstrate the changes in parenting time that have occurred. These changes can include adding or raising child support payments, changing joint custody to sole custody, and more. If you wish to petition for a modification of an active child custody order, you will need aid from a lawyer to fight for your desired outcome.

Divorce and Family Law Assistance in San Diego

Whether you’re going through an intense divorce or you’re wondering if you can relocate with your child, our family lawyers at Bickford Blado & Botros have the knowledge needed to help. Our firm is comprised of highly adept attorneys, allowing us to take on a wide range of cases and offer the individualized support that you deserve. For dedicated family law assistance, contact our firm to start working with our team.




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