Court Analyzes Factors for Permitting Out of State Relocation in California Custody Cases

It is not uncommon for a divorced couple that shares custody of a child to live in close proximity to one another, both for the sake of convenience and to benefit the child. In some cases, however, one parent will move far away, and may even relocate to another state. It is inevitable that a parent’s out of state relocation will affect his or her custody rights, but when the parent moving away seeks to obtain primary custody and relocate the child to another state, it will completely alter the lives of both parents and the child. A California court of appeals recently explained the factors a court must weigh when an out of state parent seeks to relocate a child to his or her state, in a case in which a father who moved to Arkansas was granted physical custody of a child.  If you share custody of a child and your co-parent wants to relocate your child to another state it is vital to retain a skillful California family law attorney to assist you in protecting your parental rights.

Living Situations of the Child’s Parents

Allegedly, the mother and father married in 2005 and divorced in 2007. They had one child together. A 2008 custody order granted the mother primary physical custody, and a final custody order in 2009 granted the father the right to overnight visits. The mother stated she would not comply with the terms of the order. In 2010, the custody order was modified due to the father’s lack of employment or housing.

It is reported that when the father obtained housing, the mother again stated she would not allow the child to stay overnight with the father. In 2011, the father moved to Arkansas. Subsequently, in 2017, the mother requested sole custody, noting that the father had only seen the child for 35 days each year. The father filed a response asking the court to grant joint custody, with his home as the child’s primary residence. Following a hearing, the court granted the parents joint legal custody and awarded primary physical custody to the father. The mother appealed.

Factors in Evaluating Whether to Grant Relocation

When a noncustodial parent petitions the court to change in an existing custody order, the parent must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and, therefore, a modification would be in the child’s best interest. Further, when evaluating an out-of-state noncustodial parent’s change of custody request, the court should evaluate the child’s age, ties to the community, education and health needs, and each parent’s relationship to the child in determining whether to grant the request Additionally, the court must weigh the anticipated impact of the move on the child’s relationships, and each parent’s willingness to facilitate contact with the other parent. In the subject case, upon review of the evidence, the court found that most of the factors weighed heavily in favor of the mother. The court was not persuaded by the trial court’s reasoning that the father should be permitted to relocate the child because the mother did not comply with the custody order, finding that any violations were not detrimental to the child. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Confer with an Experienced California Family Law Attorney Regarding Your Child Custody Matter

When a parent who shares the custody of a child wants to move the child to another state it will greatly impair the other parent’s ability to exercise custody rights. If your child’s co-parent wishes to move your child to another state it is vital to confer with an experienced California child custody attorney regarding your case. Ethan M. Weisinger is a seasoned California child custody attorney who will work diligently to help you protect your custodial rights. Mr. Weisinger can be contacted at (925)258-2020 or find us at to set up a confidential meeting to discuss your case.

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