San Francisco Relocation Attorney
When parents with minor children divorce, they’ll often stick close by one another so they can share custody or schedule regular visitation without unreasonably long transportation times for the parents and the kids. Often the parent with primary custody will also be awarded the marital home to promote a more stable environment for the children during this period of upheaval and transition. That said, there are many times and reasons why a custodial parent might want to relocate to a new residence, which might be a considerable distance away or even in another state. Can a parent take the kids and move without telling the other parent or getting their permission?
California state law governs when a parent can move away to a new location and what steps the parent must go through first. The other parent does have rights in this situation, and court approval is necessary for the move. A parental relocation might also require the parties to revisit the custody arrangement and visitation schedule. If you are seeking or opposing a proposed parental relocation after a divorce has already been granted, or if you want to make sure your voice is heard and your children’s needs are being met, the family law attorneys at Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP can help with practical legal advice and effective representation in or out of court. Call our experienced San Francisco parental relocation attorneys today.
How Parental Relocations and Custody Modifications Work in California
Child custody schedules and parenting plans work out in detail how much time the child spends with each parent during the week, month, or year, when and how custody exchanges take place, how emergencies or swaps are handled, how communication between the child and the noncustodial parent is handled, who has authority over decisions regarding the child’s education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, and religious upbringing or how that decision-making is shared, what to do if the parents disagree, and more. Ideally, the parents work together to come up with plans that meet everyone’s needs, but if not, the court will decide. Child custody orders can last until the child turns 18 or even longer if the child is still completing school or has special needs.
If needs change that might require changing the child custody arrangement, the current custody plan has to be modified and approved by the court. Moving away with the kids is one of those situations. There are many reasons a parent might want or need to move: a new job, a new school, or the desire to make a new start in a new setting, for example. But California law requires that before a parent can take the kids for any move that will last more than 30 days, that parent must give the other parent 45 days’ notice. This period gives the parents time to work out a new custody schedule or for the objecting parent to go to court and challenge the move.
How Our Bay Area Child Custody Lawyers Can Help
According to California law, “A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.” The parent proposing the move does not have to prove that the move is “necessary.” Instead, if the other parent opposes the move, that parent has to prove to the court that the move is not in the child’s best interests.
The court will hold a hearing to receive this information. Each party will have the opportunity to present their own lay and expert witnesses, submit reports, and argue in favor of their position. When the court is deciding on a custodial parent’s relocation, the judge will consider factors like the following:
- The reason behind the proposed relocation
- The distance of the move
- The child’s age
- Whether and how much the child needs to continue in the same residential/custodial arrangement
- The child’s preference, if the court deems the child mature enough to express a reasonable preference
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- Whether the child will be able to continue to have a meaningful relationship with the non-moving parent
The Bay Area child custody attorneys at CSY Family Law Group can work with you, your co-parent and their attorney to make any necessary changes to the custody schedule so that the relocation continues to provide meaningful contact, custody and visitation with both parents in the child’s best interests. If the relocation can’t be worked out or you don’t think the move is in your child’s best interest, we’ll prepare and present a strong case in court detailing why the relocation should not occur without a significant change to child custody.
Contact Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP Today
With Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP on your side, you’ll have a team of talented and experienced divorce lawyers working together to help you reach your goals. If you are dealing with a proposed relocation as the moving or non-moving parent and want to make sure your voice is heard, call our experienced San Francisco parental relocation attorneys today.