How Does Relocation Impact Child Custody?

How Does Relocation Impact Child Custody?

How Does Relocation Impact Child Custody?Having to relocate after a child custody arrangement has already been implemented for many years is a reality that many families must face. The need to relocate can sometimes be driven by a new job opportunity, a personal circumstance, or even the sheer desire for a change in environment. However, legal complexities can necessitate the help of a California child custody lawyer in your relocation case.

By understanding the multifaceted implications of relocation on child custody arrangements, parents can better understand how to navigate this difficult decision.

How Does Relocation Impact Child Custody in California?

Any time a parent wants to make a move in California after a custody arrangement has already been established, they need to seek approval from the other parent. This parent may agree to the move, and child custody orders will likely need to be modified due to distance. If that fails and the other parent raises concerns, the court will need to intervene to determine if the move will harm or benefit the child.

The court’s primary concern will always be the best interests of the children involved. When assessing these types of cases, a court will consider:

  • Why the parent wants to make the move
  • What the impact could be on the child’s relationship with both parents
  • If there are any benefits to the new environment for the child’s upbringing

The individual who wants to move needs to clearly demonstrate how it could be beneficial for their child or children. If the court believes that the move will benefit the children, it may grant the request for relocation. Connecting with a family law attorney to better explain the rationale for the move and build a strong case is highly recommended.

Emotional Considerations

The act of relocating can be emotionally taxing for everyone involved, especially the children who have grown used to their current arrangement after a divorce. A move would mean they need to adjust to a new school, make new friends, and, most importantly, potentially adapt to not seeing their non-custodial parent as often as they did before. This type of life disruption can lead to feelings of loss, anxiety, or even resentment toward the parent who made the decision to move.

For the parent who made the decision, it is completely normal to feel guilty. This is especially true if it will limit the other parent’s time with the child. Establishing a norm of open communication with the other parent, in addition to seeking counseling and reassurance, can help mitigate some of these emotional stressors.

The Logistics of Relocating Your Children

The logistics of moving can significantly alter the dynamics of an already separated family unit, especially if the move is to a distant location. Some logistical considerations include:

  • If a visitation schedule exists, it will need to be revisited to accommodate the longer distance. This could mean a lower number of total visits, with each visit being much lengthier than before.
  • Managing increased travel costs to accommodate visitations will also be something to consider. You should ensure these costs are not putting any unnecessary stress or financial burden on yourself or the other party. Travel costs should be financially feasible.
  • Technology can help a child with divorced parents keep in touch with one parent while they’re living with the other. When revisiting a new custody arrangement, digital communication channels between the child and their parents should be considered. This technology could help them maintain strong relationships with both parents, even when they are apart.

Do I Need to Add a Moving Clause To My California Custody Agreement?


Q: Can a Parent Refuse to Allow Relocation?

A: Yes, a parent is able to voice their concerns and object to the other parent making the decision to relocate. However, it doesn’t guarantee that the parent will be prevented from making the move; rather, it advances the dispute back to court for resolution.

In court, the objecting parent will be required to present a compelling case as to why they think the move will harm the child. The court may not prevent the parent from moving but require them to give up more time with their child than they currently have.

Q: How Does Relocation Affect Child Support Payments?

A: Relocation can impact child support payments if there is a significant change to the custodial parent’s living expenses or income. For example, if the move leads to increased travel costs for the other parent to stay compliant with a visitation schedule, the amount of child support that parent is receiving may need to increase.

This could be a new condition of the agreement to which the court will ask the moving parent to agree. They may allow the parent to move, but there could be a cost in doing so.

Q: What Are Some Ways to Maintain a Strong Parent-Child Relationship After Relocation?

A: Consistent communication can be key to helping maintain a strong bond between a child and their parents after a relocation. This can be facilitated through video calls, daily text messages, and even following each other on social media.

Parents are also encouraged to start new traditions, such as scheduled visits, vacations, or even sending personal letters back and forth. If the relocation request is approved, both parents may come together and find creative solutions to ensure the child does not feel emotionally neglected at any point in the move.

Q: How Does Relocation Impact Joint Custody Arrangements?

A: When relocation is approved for a parent in a joint custody arrangement, there will need to be a shift to a more flexible arrangement. For example, a new agreement could include longer but less frequent visits and more intentional digital communications.

Both parents will be responsible for renegotiating the terms of the custody agreement to ensure they feel accommodated with the new distance factor and also have the tools they need to maintain a strong bond with their child.

Contact Bickford Blado & Botros for Help With Your Child Custody Agreement

If relocation is impacting your child custody arrangement, connect with our family law attorneys today. For years, we have helped families achieve their need for relocation without diminishing their parental duties or connection with their children. We are prepared to do the same for you and your family.



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