Move-Away Cases

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Move-away cases involve a custodial parent taking the children of a divorce to a different geographical area from where they currently live. If both parents agree to the relocation of the minor children with the custodial parent, there usually is no problem. However, because of a California Supreme Court case in 2004, re. Marriage of LaMusga, if the non-custodial parent objects to the relocation of the children, that parent can contest the move.

California Family Code section 7501 states, “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.”

Marriage of LaMusga

Before passage of this law, the custodial parent frequently was permitted to move the child to a different geographical area, including out of state. Now, under the new law, judges have the “widest possible discretion” in considering whether to allow a parent’s request to move the child.

Whatever is in the best interest of the child is considered paramount. Sometimes, if the custodial parent wishes to move, the court can order the child to remain with the other parent if the court determines such relocation would be a “significant detriment” to the child. The judge can even decide that the move itself would be a significant detriment to the child.

Making the decision to allow or disallow the move-away of the custodial parent can be complicated. The judge must take into account numerous factors. This is why having a San Diego child custody lawyer on your side can be so crucial at this time.

Factors That Must Be Considered

  • The court must consider the following factors when making a decision whether to allow the custodial parent to move away with the child:
  • How stable and continuous the custodial relationship is
  • How far the move would be
  • How old the children are
  • The child’s relationship with both parents
  • How able the parents are to communicate and cooperate with each other
  • How willing the parents are to put the child’s needs first
  • What the child prefers, given he or she understands the decision and is mature enough to make it
  • What the reasons for the move are
  • How much parents have shared custody of the child before the request to move

If the non-custodial parent objects to the move-away of the child with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent often requests a 730 child custody evaluation. This evaluation presents psychological evidence indicating the impact the move would have on the child and the non-custodial parent.

For more information or to speak with an experienced family law attorney about a move-away matter, please contact a San Diego family law attorney at The Edmunds Law Firm today.