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Bay Area Family Attorneys > Blog > Child Custody Visitation > Britney Spears Consents to Children Moving – Relocation and Child Custody

Britney Spears Consents to Children Moving – Relocation and Child Custody


Life happens. The place you end up – or would like to end up – is not necessarily the same location you were in when your divorce and/or custody agreement was settled. But when you have a child and you are going through a divorce or otherwise have a custody agreement in place, moving your child out of state may be a complicated matter, depending on the circumstances and the wishes of the other parent involved.

This issue was highlighted this week as music superstar Britney Spears acquiesced to her ex-husband Kevin Federline’s request to move the two underage sons they share with him from California to Hawaii. Reportedly, Mr. Federline sent a letter that requested permission to make the move and approximately two weeks later Ms. Spears offered her consent.

This family is fortunate. In the best of cases matters such as these can be handled peacefully and without too much pain or trauma to anyone involved. But every parent should become familiar with the process of how one gains permission for an out-of-area move, and what you may expect next steps to be if your child’s other parent is not quite so accommodating to the request.

Various Laws and Processes

Parents who never married will deal with different laws/processes than parents whose children are a product of a relationship that ended in divorce. However, in whatever circumstances you find yourself you should anticipate that your child’s other parent could act to prevent you from leaving the state with your child.

It is important to note and understand that you have a constitutional right to move out of your current area if you so choose. HOWEVER – that does not mean that you have a right to take a child along with you. The courts will examine the circumstances and consider the best interests of the child when such a request is made.

The laws and processes you can expect to follow may vary based on your custody arrangements with your co-parent.

Sole Custody Agreements

If you have sole custody of a child then you will, in all likelihood, be successful in a petition to move the child out of their current state. Courts will generally allow such a move so long as it does not affect your child’s rights and the move is in their best interest. For instance, supportive facts such as the move bringing the child closer to family, to better living conditions, and/or to a better school will all be seen as supporting a determination that the move is in the child’s best interest.

California law requires that custodial parents provide their co-parent with their written intention to move out of the state with the child. The notice must be given at least 45 days before the intended move. This allows both parties the opportunity to work out any new custody or visitation arrangements in advance of the move. Also, it allows time for the other parent to object to the move, if they so wish. This objection needs to be filed with the court so the matter can be properly processed.

Joint Custody Agreements

The California legal landscape is different for parents who share custody. If the parent with primary physical custody of the kids wishes to move away with the kids then they need to officially file a move-away petition with the court. This petition will require parents to detail why the parent wishes to make the move.

If your co-parent objects to the move they may file an objection or dispute the filed move-away petition. The judge will examine the information before it and make a determination aimed to serve the best interests of the child. Depending on the age of the child and the specific circumstances of the case, this consideration may take into account the children’s expressed wishes. The custody order may be altered, if appropriate and necessary.

Unmarried Parents

An unwed mother is automatically granted custody of her child upon that child’s birth. If the parents do not act to establish the paternity of the father, then the mother will retain sole custody of the child. Because a father who has not established paternity has not established any rights over the child, it is unlikely that the individual will be able to successfully block the mother from moving the child away, unless and until he establishes paternity of the child and assumes the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood.

Contact Cardwell, Steigerwald Young

If you are trying to move out of California with your child, or your co-parent has informed you of their intentions to leave with your child, contact the experienced San Francisco child custody lawyers at Cardwell Steigerwald Young to see how we can help you successfully execute the next steps.


Britney Spears Responds to Kevin Federline’s Plan to Move Their Sons – E! Online (eonline.com)


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