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Bay Area Family Attorneys > Blog > Child Custody Visitation > International Custody and Move Away Requests

International Custody and Move Away Requests


The divorce case of Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas continues to dominate headlines as the respected actress and boy band musician take the initial steps toward the dissolution of their marriage. While little to nothing has been released from Ms. Turner’s camp regarding her plans for the future since the divorce, the Game of Thrones actress has been vocal in the past about her desire to return to her home country of England.

Since news of the divorce broke, anonymous sources from Joe Jonas’s camp have publicly made small comments surrounding the idea that the couples’ two children are currently staying with their father. Ms. Turner is, by all accounts, currently working in England on a project.

While the future of the couples’ custody agreement is yet to be seen, it is very common for custody battles to develop. This is particularly true if the two parents want to live in widely different locales – even internationally. Because custody battles have a history of becoming contentious, there is some speculation that some individuals may be trying to paint Mr. Jonas in the best possible light in the court of public opinion.

Because the couple’s family home was most recently in Florida, if Ms. Turner does wish to move to England with the children in the future, she may need to go through Florida’s court process of an international move away request. This article aims to give readers a basic understanding of what they might expect if they, themselves, are faced with going before a California judge to plead their case on an international move-away request.

Factors for Consideration

A California court will consider various factors when making their determination on an international move away request.  As always, the best interest of the children at issue is always of paramount concern.

A move away request that is made after a custody arrangement is already in place will require the requesting parent to, essentially, submit a petition for custody modification. This modification, if approved, would allow the custodial parent to relocate with their child outside of the geographic boundary that is outlined in the custody agreement/parenting arrangement.

Like any non-international move away request – such as a move to a different state – the judge will consider the request and weigh the merits of the competing factors in order to come to a determination of what outcome will best serve the child’s best interests.

Items of consideration include:

  • The distance of the move: while not a determinative factor, the distance of the move is relevant to how hard the move is likely to be on the child. How much will this change the child’s life? How much more difficult will it be for them to see their other parent?
  • The proposed reasons for the move: Does the custodial parent have no job options except to move internationally for work? The ability for the custodial parent to continue to work and provide basic needs for the child is important.
  • The child’s age, and, if old enough, the child’s expressed wishes of whether they want to move internationally or not.
  • The child’s need for continuity and stability: this includes consideration of the child’s relationship with both parents. Would the move away really affect how much time the children spend with their non-custodial parent? Or is this individual already largely (voluntarily) absentee?
  • The current custodial relationship: Is the custody dynamic 50/50? 60/40? Does the non-custodial parent only receive visitation twice a year? All of these are custodial options, and a child’s relationship with their parent is much more likely to be affected if the child is accustomed to staying with the non-custodial parent 40% of the time, than if the child only visits with the parent two days a year.

While these are not all the relevant factors that will be considered by the court, they do paint the general picture: international move-away requests are often difficult to have approved because this kind of move is likely to cause a good deal of disruption to the child’s life. This is not to say the task is impossible – and an experienced divorce and child custody attorney can help.

Contact Cardwell, Steigerwald Young

Our esteemed San Francisco child custody lawyers have years of experience in all aspects of divorce and child custody issues. Contact our office today to discuss your case.




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