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California Family Law Move Away Orders FAQ

California Family Law Move Away Orders FAQ

In the State of California, a case involving the relocation of a minor child is referred to as a “move-away” case and these cases are typically complicated. The Family Code houses many statutes and case histories that can help guide families seeking to relocate residence with their child, or conversely, seeking to prevent a relocation from happening. If you are seeking to relocate or prevent a relocation from happening, the following information can serve as a supplemental guide, but it is in your best interest to speak to an established family law attorney who can advocate on your behalf. The experienced attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP can provide you with the assistance you need.

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP are exceptionally skilled in the field of family law, including divorce cases, child custody disputes, and move-away orders. Proudly serving communities throughout Southern California, the attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP can help you navigate the convoluted legal process. Consider scheduling a free case consultation with a skilled attorney by completing the online form found here.

Do Custodial Parents Have to Notify the Non-Custodial Parent About the Relocation?

In short, yes, parents who have primary custody of the minor should notify non-custodial parents about the relocation. Under state laws, parents should provide a notice at least 45 days before the planned relocation. The notification would enable the non-custodial parent with enough time to petition an objection with the court if he or she feels that the move is not justified.

What Happens When the Co-Parent Agrees To the Relocation?

Like most matters involving family law, amicably resolving the situation can simplify and expedite the process. An agreement can be drafted by both parties stipulating their consent to the relocation. In this agreement, the parents can also decide to establish new conditions for an existing visitation agreement. If the court approves the agreement, the process to relocate will be much faster.

What Happens If the Co-Parent Doesn’t Agree?

When there is disagreement over the child’s relocation, the parent seeking the relocation will need to attend a court hearing. In this hearing, the judge will consider a wide range of factors to determine whether or not the child can be relocated. Some of these factors include:

  • First, and always, what is in the best interest of the child
  • The minor’s relationship with his or her parents,
  • How far the move will be,
  • The minor’s physical and mental well-being,
  • How the move could impact the child’s physical and emotional well-being,
  • Whether the move would facilitate opportunities for the minor,
  • Whether the minor has other friends or family in the place of relocation, and
  • Whether the parent relocating would provide better care for the minor by moving.
  • As well as make a determination of which parent is more likely to facilitate a continued and frequent visitation arrangement with the other parent
  • And more…

What Rights Does the Non-Parental Parent Have?

The California Family Code §3020 (b) stipulates that children should be encouraged to have continued contact with both parents once the parents have dissolved their marriage or have legally separated. California courts have found that the law does not disallow awarding custody to a parent who seeks to move. Family Code §3020 (b) also does not require parents with sole custody to prove to the court that their relocation is necessary. Instead, the parent opposing the move has the burden to contest the relocation. Non-custodial parents have to demonstrate that the move would cause the child harm and that the move is being done in bad faith.

What If There Were Previous Conditions Set in the Child Custody Order?

When the parents enter into a stipulated agreement regarding custody and visitation, the parents will need to follow the conditions set by the agreement. This means that it may be possible that the custodial parent will need to obtain consent from the other parent before making the move. In this situation, the parent requesting the move will have to demonstrate that the decision to relocate the family was made in good faith. Still, non-custodial parents protesting the move will continue to have the burden to prove to the court that the move is detrimental to the minor.

Can the Move Be Used to Modify an Existing Order?

When a non-custodial parent is successful in demonstrating that the child’s move will be detrimental to the upbringing of the minor, the court will then decide if a change in the custody order is in the best interest of the child. There are a variety of factors that the court will then take into consideration when deciding whether or not the custody order should be modified or changed. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Why the custodial parent wants to move
  • The distance of the move
  • The age of the child
  • The child’s relationship with each of his or her parents
  • Depending on the child’s age, what he or she wishes
  • The ability for the parents to continue a stable custody arrangement
  • The time ratio the parents currently spend with the child

How To Minimize the Impact of a Relocation

When California courts approve relocations, the courts will attempt to do so in a manner that lessens the impact of the move and encourages both parents to continue frequent and ongoing contact with the child. The court does this in a number of ways, including:

  • Ensuring the relocating parent brings back the child periodically
  • Ensuring the non-custodial parent receives a longer school vacation visitation
  • Ensure the non-custodial parent is paid for his or her travel expenses by the custodial parent for child visits

Do You Need a Family Law Attorney to Relocate?

Move-away orders can be pursued with or without the support of an attorney, however, by having a skilled attorney at your side, you can rest assured that the attorney is helping reach the most favorable outcome. An established family law attorney can help you every step of the way.

The family law attorneys Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP can provide proficient legal representation to help you preserve your rights as a parent. Whether you are seeking a move-away order or are contesting one, the attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP can provide you with the assistance you need and deserve during this tumultuous time. Consider contacting the law firm by completing the online form found here.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.