Child Custody Relocation

By Henry F. Lewis on June 14, 2021

child holding a block houseWhen parents divorce, one of the most important matters to be settled is a child custody arrangement. Child custody defines who has physical custody of the child (i.e. where the child primarily lives) and who has legal custody (i.e. who makes important life decisions for the child). Whether a parent has sole or joint custody, it can bring up concerns if one parent decides to move.

Child custody may allow for relocation under certain circumstances, but it is dependent on the details of the arrangement. Family law attorney Michael A. Gardner can help individuals in the Oakland, CA, area consider their rights if they want to relocate after a divorce, or if their former spouse is trying to move with their child.

Can I Relocate if I Have Primary Custody of My Child?

In most circumstances a parent who is assigned primary custody of their child has the right to relocate with them, as long as the move will not interfere with the best interests of the child. However, proper notice must be given, and the other parent has the right to appeal the relocation.

If a custodial parent will be moving or relocating for more than 30 days, they must provide written notification to the other parent. The notification must be given at least 45 days prior to the proposed move. This allows time for the present custody and/or visitation agreement to be modified as needed. 

If the non-moving parent does not agree to the relocation, they can object with the court. If a parent files an appeal, the matter will be settled by a judge. Michael A. Gardner assists his Oakland clients in child relocation hearings to ensure that their best interests, and the child’s best interest, are taken into consideration.

Can a Child Custody Arrangement Be Changed in Response to Relocation?

If a parent objects to a relocation, they can ask the court to modify the current custody agreement, even if they are not the custodial parent. A judge may order a change in child custody if the relocation interferes with the child’s rights, or if it can be shown that the move would cause the child significant harm. When considering a child custody modification in response to relocation, the court contemplates factors such as:

  • The child’s stability and/or need for continuity
  • The distance of the proposed move
  • The child’s relationship with both parents and how they may be impacted by relocation
  • The presence of family/support system in the current community vs. the area of proposed relocation
  • Accessibility to physical, emotional, and educational needs in the proposed new community
  • The parent’s reason for relocation

What if I Share Joint Custody?

If parents share joint physical custody of a child, a relocation of an extended distance is far less likely to be approved when the other parent objects to it. The court would ultimately consider the best interest of the child, and when a joint custody agreement is in place, the court usually favors arrangements that make it easy for the child to maintain a close physical and emotional relationship with each parent. However, each case is unique, so a relocation may not be completely out of the question for those who share joint custody.

Get In Touch

Whether you are considering a move or are concerned about a proposed relocation involving your child, family law attorney Michael A. Gardner can be of assistance. To discuss your situation in further detail, send us a message online, or call our Oakland law firm at (510) 451-4822.

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822