When a couple with children gets divorced, the court will generally award custody to one or both parents via court order. Assuming that both parents are stable and equipped to do so, the court will do whatever it can to ensure that both parents are involved in the child’s life. But what happens when a custodial parent wants to relocate and take the children with them? The answer depends on the circumstances surrounding the move.
Generally, California parents with primary physical custody of your child via permanent court order have the right to move away if they choose to do so. However, if the other parent doesn’t want them to move, they will have to prove to the court that the move would harm the children. Parents who are sharing physical custody of their child with the child’s other parent will need to show the court that the move is in the best interest of the child.
Keep in mind that just because your parenting agreement says “sole” or “joint” physical custody, doesn’t mean that the court will take that at face value. Courts know that custody arrangements change over time and that parents don’t necessarily stick to what was initially agreed upon. Therefore, courts will look at the arrangement at the time of the move to determine whether a parent is allowed to move away.
If you are concerned that your child’s other parent is thinking about moving away with your child, there are certain things you can do to protect your rights. For one, you and your attorney can make changes to your parenting agreement to make sure that you will still play an active role in your child’s life even if they move away. You can also include “virtual visitation” in your plan to allow you to spend time with your children via webcam, even if you cannot be with them in person. For more information on relocating with children post-divorce, discuss your case with a family law attorney.