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COVID-19 and Child Relocation

The pandemic has resulted in a major migration for many people. In the last nine months alone, more than eight million people have uprooted and moved back in with family or to find cheaper living arrangements. Many Bay Area residents are moving with their children to Sacramento County and Placer County. 

Due to these circumstances, some parents make the difficult choice to move in with extended family, downsize, or relocate to a more affordable region. While California courts do not wish to create obstacles for parents dealing with serious issues, parents must remember to adhere to family law requirements when considering relocation.  

If you are considering relocating with children after a divorce, there are special considerations to keep in mind.

Can I Relocate with My Children After a Divorce?

After a divorce, if you and your ex-spouse share children (joint legal and physical custody), you cannot move out of the general area with your children unless you reach an agreement with the other parent or you seek express written consent from the court.

Even still, Requests for Orders that strongly interfere with the other parent’s ability to visit or maintain shared custody have little judicial appeal and are rarely approved.

Relocating When You Share Physical Custody

In California, divorced couples with minor children are required to solve disputes over child custody, visitation, and child support prior to a final judgment.  By far, the most popular arrangement is shared physical custody.

However, for shared custody to be actually feasible, including pick up/drop offs from school and extracurricular activities, both parties need to live within proximity of each other. Jurisdiction over the divorce occurs in the county where the parties were married or reside. When one party has only visitation rights to the children, the parties should still address major issues like potential relocation.

In true joint custody situations, the burden is on the party intending to move that the child’s relocation is in the best interest of the child.

Relocating When Custodial Rights Have Been Relinquished

Should one party elect to relinquish custody rights to the other party (sole custody), there is no automatic requirement to contact the courts about moving. Even so, contacting a family law attorney and securing a written, enforceable agreement is always highly recommended.

Circumstances Warranting Relocation Approval in California

There are some cases in which moving your family is feasible, and can be approved by a California family court.

There are many good faith reasons for relocating with a child, such as when a parent:

  • Has remarried and is joining a new family
  • Has new business or economic prospects like a better-paying job
  • Needs to move back home to care for elderly parents
  • Is moving closer to grandparents or extended family that can assist with caring for the child and fostering beneficial relationships

In these circumstances, the courts might grant the relocation request by finding that staying in the home of the moving parent is in the best interest of the child. Ultimately the judicial officer will attempt to tailor an order to limit the negative effects to the child regarding the remaining parent, schooling, and relationships with extended family.

Keep in mind that your California custody orders may require the parent intending to move to provide 30 days’ notice to the other parent prior to leaving.  

Solve Custodial Disputes with the Help of Our Sacramento Child Custody Lawyers

If you are a parent without primary physical custody and are worried that moving plans will hinder your ability to see your child, contact our attorneys. Or, if you are a custodial parent contemplating a move, consult your written parenting orders and then connect with our child custody attorneys to learn more about your options.

Call today or schedule a free consultation with Hughes Law Group  to review your case and get a better understanding of your custodial rights today.

COVID-19 and Child Custody Relocation (Move-Away)