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San Diego Out of State Child Relocation Attorneys

Child Custody and Moving Away or Out of State

There may come a time when one parent decides to move out of the state where the other parent lives. This could be for career reasons, health issues, family reasons, or because the custodial parent is in a new relationship. The California courts understand this is sometimes necessary and generally won’t prevent it, though the relocating parent will need the court’s permission before moving the child. However, the non-moving parent can contest the move and attempt to block it.

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to move a child out of state or prevent your former spouse or partner from taking your child out of state, you need to speak with an experienced San Diego out-of-state child relocation lawyer. Mattis Law, A.P.C. has been successfully representing San Diego parents for years. You want to do what’s best for your child, and our family law attorneys can help you make that happen. For a free case evaluation, call (858) 328-4400.

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How Do California Courts Decide a Child Can Be Moved Out of State?

In general, California courts allow a parent with sole custody of a child to move out of state unless the non-custodial parent can show that the move would be harmful to the child or children. When parents have joint custody of a child or children, and one parent wants to move them out of state and the other objects, the parent that intends to move must show the courts that the move is in the child or children’s best interests.

When considering whether moving out of state is in a child’s best interests, California courts consider:

  • The parent’s motive for moving the child out of state (he or she must show that the reason for the move is legitimate and not just to take the child away from the other parent).
  • How far away the child will be moving.
  • The relationship between the child and both the moving parent and the left-behind parent.
  • How the move will affect the child’s relationship with the left-behind parent.
  • How the move will benefit the child.
  • How the move will affect the child’s social life and education.

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What Makes the Court More Likely to Grant a Move-Away Order?

If you wish to relocate with your child, there are things you can do to help your case. Before proceeding with an out-of-state relocation request in family court, get concrete details down about the reason for the move, the specific location of the move, and benefits to the child. Also, if possible, work out a co-parenting plan that keeps your child’s relationship with the other parent intact after the move. The courts strongly encourage a relationship between the child and both parents.

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The Process: How to Petition for an Out-of-State Move

  1. The parent requesting the relocation must file a "request for order" along with a supporting declaration with the San Diego family court. The declaration must be detailed and specific. This will include the how, when, and where exactly you will be moving, and why this move is in the child’s best interests.
  2. Meanwhile, the other parent must be served with a copy of the filed paperwork. He or she has the right to object to the move, but the burden of proof rests on the objecting parent. He or she must show that either the move is detrimental to the child, or that the moving parent has "bad-faith" reasons for taking the child away. The judge will ultimately grant or deny the move-away order. Parents with sole custody have a better chance of gaining a move-away order.
  3. If the other parent objects, an evidentiary hearing is scheduled. Both parents will be given time for the discovery process, so they can gather information and evidence that will strengthen their claims. The actual hearing rarely takes more than a day, although the judge may take some time to make a decision. The relocating parent will be asked to tell his or her side of the story first. The judge may also wish to hear from the child, if he or she is emotionally mature enough to make a decision. The judge will also take into consideration the schedules of both parents, determining how much they work, or will work, and how much time they have to be with the child.
  4. After the relocating parent has presented his or her case, the other parent will have a chance. He or she will try to show that the move will negatively affect the child, or that the moving parent has no plans to continue the child’s relationship with the parent remaining in the state.
  5. A lawyer for the relocating parent will have a chance to present a rebuttal after the opposing parent has made his or her argument. This is why it’s important for you to have legal representation before filing a move-away request.
  6. After the hearing, the judge will make his decision, which is final. There is no appeals process, and no chance of modifying the existing custody order unless there is a "significant" change in either parent’s circumstances.

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Modification of Custody and Visitation Agreements

In California, a child cannot be moved out of state without a court order. Moving a child out of state also requires a modification of the custody and visitation agreements - especially if you share custody. Court orders and custody and visitation agreement modification will require that you negotiate with the other parent through an experienced San Diego child custody lawyer.

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Contact San Diego Child Relocation Lawyers at Mattis Law, A.P.C.

Even amicable divorces can become hostile when an argument arises over moving a child out of state, so it’s important that you are fully aware of your rights as a parent. Since 2014, Mattis Law, A.P.C. has provided legal guidance to Southern California parents who are working on custody agreements or are mired in difficult custody disputes. We understand how much you cherish your relationship with your children and we want to ensure that that relationship remains meaningful and intact. For a free case evaluation, call a member of our experienced legal team at (858) 328-4400.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Moving Out of State.

Can I move my child out of state without my ex-'s consent?

If you have primary physical custody of the child, you have the right to move the child out of state, however your ex can block the move if he or she can argue that the move would be detrimental to the child. During a relocation hearing, the courts will decide what is best for the child and both parents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions regarding the move. Both parents may also create a new parenting plan to change visitation dates to allow for visitation after the move, as well as who has primary custody. Even if the other parent has not exercised their visitation rights, you must request a move away order with a court.

In cases involving joint physical custody, the parent that would like to move the child must demonstrate to the court that the move would be in the best interests of the child. This will involve a relocation hearing and the steps would proceed in the same manner as if the case involved primary physical custody.

I do not have primary physical custody of my child. Can I move them out of state?

If you are not the custodial parent, you do not have the right to move your child out of state unless you request a change of custodial rights in court and request a relocation order.

How do I win a move away case in California?

The California courts are designed to advocate for the best interests of the child and will carefully review all factors when making a decision. To be approved for a relocation order from a California court, you must prove that the move will not be detrimental to your child. Often, this means proving that any modifications to visitation rights with the other parent will not negatively impact your child. Demonstrating that the child can still remain in contact with the other parent and that their relationship will not be harmed can help your case.

How do I block a move away order in California?

The California courts understand that a strong, healthy relationship with both parents is in the child’s best interests. To block a move away order, you must demonstrate to the court that your relationship with your child will be negatively affected by the move. This can include arguing that visitation will be limited or not possible due to distance or finances.

Your argument may be broader, outlining how the move will adversely affect your child’s physical, emotional, psychological, or educational development. For example, if you child requires regular psychological therapy with an assigned therapist, the courts may determine that changing therapists and moving out of state is not in the child’s best interests and block the order.

When facing a move away order, it is best to discuss the best strategy with a knowledgeable child custody attorney.

How far can I move if I have joint custody in California?

It is common for parents to need to relocate, either due to career changes, finances, or his or her wellbeing. However, if you plan to move to another city or county within California, the move may require significant changes to your visitation plans and custody rights. The other parent may be able to argue that the move will adversely impact his or her visitation rights or your child’s development. This can result in a change from joint custody to primary physical custody on the other parent’s behalf.

Do I need a move away order if I take my child on vacation outside of California?

Move away orders can be avoided if both parents can come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation. Some parenting plans outline limits for traveling out of state or country with a child. If the parenting plan states that both parents need to consent to the child leaving the state, then you will need to discuss the matter with your ex.

In addition, you must ensure that the dates your child will be away do not violate your ex’s visitation dates. In some cases, you may not be able to get in contact with the other parent, and you will need to contact the court to request permission to take the child out of state temporarily.

Can I lose primary physical custody in a move away case?

It is rare for a parent to lose primary physical custody solely on the basis of requesting a move away order. Custody rights are determined based on the best interests of the child’s well-being, and unless the other parent can successfully argue that he or she should have primary physical custody, custody rights should not change drastically. If you are afraid of losing primary physical custody, contact us at (858) 328-4400 for a free consultation.

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Additional Information

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