There are some aspects of your divorce settlement that are not set in stone. After all, the court understands that life is not static and things change, people move, and sometimes you have to pursue opportunities that will improve your family's life. If you share children with your ex-spouse, however, this simple relocation can become complicated, so it is crucial to hire an experienced family law attorney who is experienced in handling such matters.
While a judge cannot force either parent to remain in the state after a divorce, he or she can change custody, if relocating does not serve the best interests of the children. This means that a non-custodial parent can overcome the advantage the custodial parent has if a judge believes moving would be detrimental to the well-being of the children.
CUSTODIAL PARENTS AND RELOCATION
Under California law, custodial parents have the right to change residences and move to different neighborhoods with their children as long as these moves do not harm their best interest. That said, the custodial parent must still provide a written notice of this move at least 45 days in advance. The non-custodial parent has the right to file an objection to the custodial parent's proposed relocation and to request a modification of the custody agreement.
WHAT FACTORS ARE CONSIDERED DURING A RELOCATION HEARING?
Generally, custody agreements are only modified if it is deemed that a move would negatively impact the child. When a parent objects to the other's relocation, a judge will schedule a hearing in order to determine what would be an appropriate court of action. There are several factors a judge will examine before he or she decides to change custody or visitation rights, such as:
- The children's need for stability
- The distance of the move
- The harm that would be caused as a result of custody modification
- The children's relationship with both parents
- The parents' relationship with one another and their ability to effectively communicate
- The potential harm that might be inflicted on the children's relationship with the other parent as a result of the move
- The parent's reason for moving
- The emotional, physical, and educational needs of the children and how well they will be met by the move
- The children's relationships with extended family members
- Any other factors that might be considered relevant by a judge
Depending on the age of the children, a judge might even consider their desires as well.
NEGOTIATING WITH YOUR CO-PARENT
Ex-spouses also have the option of negotiating an agreement they can both live with by working on a plan that allows the custodial parent to move while still maximizing the non-custodial parent's time with the children. These compromises can be reached by adjusting visitation periods. For example, in exchange for not fighting the relocation request, the non-custodial parent could enjoy longer summers and more holidays with the children. Consider reaching out to a mediator to reach an agreement without having to hash it out in a courtroom. As an impartial third party, he or she will be able to help you resolve your issues as long as you are both willing to cooperate.
Relocation & Child Custody Attorneys in Murrieta
Whether you would like to move with your children after a divorce or are trying to prevent your ex-spouse from doing so, the Murrieta child custody attorneys at Westover Law Group can assist you throughout this emotional process. We have been assisting families deal with a vast range of family law matters since 2007 and would be honored to do the same for you and yours.
For the knowledgeable and compassionate legal assistance you need, contact our office today at (951) 643-0085 to schedule a free consultation.