A standard provision in a San Diego child custody order is that neither parent can legally change the residence of the child outside of San Diego County without a court order or written consent from the other parent. As such, move away and child relocation disputes in San Diego can be complicated and stressful for everyone involved, and because emotions tend to run high and tensions are raised when parents consider moving away with their child, having an experienced San Diego family law attorney on your side who has experience with move away and relocation requests can be a tremendous asset in such cases. Our attorneys at (619) Divorce have a clear understanding of San Diego divorce and child custody laws and how they apply to your case, and we will ensure that you are aware of your rights as a parent.
If you find yourself in a situation where you want to move your child out of state or prevent your former partner from relocating your child far away from you, you need to hire an attorney to help you get permission for the move, or successfully contest it. Our attorneys at (619) Divorce are experienced in all family law matters arising out of a San Diego divorce action, including child custody and visitation disputes, child support payments, spousal support orders, and move away and relocation requests, and we will use every resource at our disposal to help you get a favorable outcome in your case. Our family law attorneys recognize the importance of the parent-child bond and understand how much you cherish your relationship with your child, and we will do everything in our power to help ensure that it remains intact.
San Diego Move Away and Child Relocation Laws
A “move away” request is when a spouse asks for permission to move out of San Diego or out of state. Essentially, a move away request is a request by a parent to modify the current court order that sets forth each parent’s child custody and visitation rights. If a child custody order is in place and you do not have written agreement from the other parent to move with your child, you must ask the court for permission to move and relocate your child away from San Diego. When a custodial parent files a move away request, the judge must decide whether the child should remain with the noncustodial parent or move out of San Diego, California or the United States with the custodial parent, depending on the circumstances of the request. When making this important decision, a judge will consider many different factors, including:
- The distance of the proposed move,
- The reasons for the move,
- The co-parenting relationship between the parents,
- The age of the child,
- How the move will affect the child’s education and social life,
- The financial impact the move could have on both parents,
- The relationship between the child and both parents,
- The availability of any special accommodations the child requires,
- Depending on the age of the child, the child’s wishes, and
- Any other variables the court deems relevant.
Similar to child custody and visitation determinations in San Diego, a judge’s decision in a parental move away case will be based on the best interests of the child, i.e. if the child’s interests are best served by remaining with the noncustodial parent or moving away with the custodial parent.
California Family Code § 7501
Under California Family Code § 7501, “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.” What that means is, even parents with sole custody of their child require permission from the court to relocate the child, and with any San Diego move away and child relocation request, the court has the power to deny the request if there is reasonable evidence that the move would negatively affect the child. Child custody and visitation orders in San Diego are powerful and once an order has been issued by the court, the only way to amend the order is to request a modification of the custody and visitation agreements, and this includes any requests to move a child out of state.
California Family Code § 3020(b)
Any time a child relocation request is filed in San Diego, the court will consider whether the move will allow the child to maintain a close relationship with both parents before making a final decision. Pursuant to California Family Code § 3020(b), “it is the public policy of this state to ensure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy, except when the contact would not be in the best interests of the child ” If your former partner is considering moving your child out of state or out of the country, and the move would make it difficult for you to maintain frequent and continuing contact with your child, you may have reasonable grounds to contest the move in court.
Petitioning the Court for an Out-of-State Move
If you wish to relocate to another state with your child, the likelihood of the court approving your request depends a great deal on the child custody order currently in place. In most cases in San Diego, parents who have a permanent order for sole physical custody, also known as primary physical custody, will be permitted to move their child out of state, unless the noncustodial parent can show the court that the move would be harmful to the child in some way. When parents share custody of their child, however, the “burden of proof” shifts to the other parent. If one parent wants to move the child out of state and the other parent contests the move, the parent who files the move away request will have to show that the move is in the child’s best interest in order to get permission from the court. The following is the process by which a parent can petition the court for an out-of-state move:
- The parent requesting the move files a detailed and specific “request for order” with the San Diego family court.
- The other parent is served with a copy of the filed paperwork, at which point he or she can object to the move, showing either that the move will harm the child or that the parent requesting the move has “bad-faith” reasons for relocating the child.
- If the other parent objects to the move away request, an evidentiary hearing will be scheduled, during which both parents will be given the opportunity to tell their side of the story.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a final decision regarding the move away request. There is no appeals process and no chance of modifying the custody order unless there is a significant change in the circumstances of either parent.
To improve your chances of getting your move away request approved, you should hire an attorney who has experience with child relocation hearings and who can competently and efficiently negotiate with the other parent’s legal counsel. If possible, you should also work out a co-parenting plan that ensures your child’s relationship with the other parent will remain intact after the move. This is one of the major concerns of the court when it comes to approving or denying out-of-state child relocation requests.
Minimizing the Impact of an Out-of-State Relocation
Child custody and visitation agreements are complicated enough when both parents live in California, but when one parent moves out of state, resolving custody disputes in a way that satisfies both parents can be especially difficult. If the San Diego family court approves an out-of-state move away request, the court may attempt to minimize the impact of the relocation by encouraging the parents to develop a co-parenting plan that ensures frequent and continuing contact with both parents, which may include the custodial parent paying for all travel expenses for visitation purposes or the custodial parent bringing the child back to San Diego for regular visits.
How a San Diego Child Relocation Lawyer Can Help
A child custody and visitation order by the San Diego family court can affect the rest of your family’s life, and unless you are an expert on family law disputes in San Diego, you should never attempt to handle critical child custody or child relocation issues on your own. Our family law attorneys at (619) Divorce have successfully litigated hundreds of divorce and family law cases in San Diego, and we can help you find your way through even the most stressful, complicated and contentious custody disputes. The law on move away and child relocation situations is always changing, and decisions are often made by the court on a case-by-case basis, which can make it difficult to know where you stand.
Our family law attorneys at (619) Divorce understand that every custody and move away case is different, and we agree that protecting the best interests of your child is of the utmost importance. If you want to move away with your child, or you are worried that your former partner will move away with your child, contact an experienced San Diego family law attorney today to make sure that you understand your child custody and move away rights under the law. It is important to note that the unlawful removal of a minor child absent a court order is considered child abduction and could result in the parent facing criminal charges and losing custody of the child. Our reputable attorneys at (619) Divorce are familiar with all manner of San Diego family law disputes and we can help you find the best course of action for your specific situation.
Consult Our San Diego Family Law Attorneys
Move away requests and out-of-state child relocations in San Diego tend to be extremely emotional family law issues and even the most amicable divorces can become hostile when it comes to one parent requesting to move a child out of state. If you are considering moving out of San Diego or California, and you would like to relocate your child with you, you will likely face opposition from the other parent. Or, if you are the noncustodial parent and your child’s custodial parent has filed a move away request, it is imperative that you act quickly to protect your rights. Your first course of action when dealing with a move away and child relocation request should be to hire an experienced San Diego child relocation lawyer to advocate for you and ensure your legal rights are protected. Contact our skilled San Diego family law attorneys at (619) Divorce and our legal team will work tirelessly to help you get the best possible outcome in your case.