California Court Discusses the Right to Relocate a Child

Generally, parents who share joint custody of a child will reside in close proximity to one another. It is not uncommon for circumstances to arise that trigger a desire in one parent to move to another state, however. Whether the Courts grant a parent the right to move with a child to another state depends on numerous factors, but if a Court issues an order allowing a move, it may be difficult to overturn. This was demonstrated recently in an opinion issued by a California Court in a case in which a father appealed an order granting his ex-wife the right to move to Georgia with their child. If your parental rights are at risk, it is in your best interest to speak to a San Diego child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and the father married in 2014. They had one child, a daughter, who was born in 2017. The father filed a petition for the dissolution of the marriage the following year. The Court granted the dissolution, awarded the parties joint legal custody of the child, and granted the mother primary physical custody. The father had visitation rights for three hours each weekday and weekends twice per month.

Reportedly, in December 2020, the mother filed a request for spousal support and permission to relocate with the child to Georgia. In support of her request, she explained that she had full-time job offers in Georgia and that the educational system was better for her daughter. The father opposed the request to relocate. Following a hearing, the Court ruled in favor of the mother. The father appealed.

The Right to Relocate a Child

Under California law, a Court evaluating a request from a parent to move a child out of the state must first determine whether the parent has joint or sole physical custody of the child. If a parent has sole custody, they have the presumptive right to move away. The non-custodial parent then bears the burden of proving that relocating the child’s home would detrimentally impact the child, and custody should be reevaluated.

If the non-custodial parent demonstrates the move would be detrimental, the trial Court must evaluate whether a change in custody would be in the best interest of the child. In determining whether relocation would be detrimental to a child’s welfare, the Court may consider the child’s interest in stability, the distance of the move, the child’s age and relationship with the parents, and the parents’ relationship with one another.

In the subject case, the Court found that there was no clear error in the order granting the mother the right to relocate the child. As such, there was no basis for reversal.

Meet with a Trusted San Diego Family Law Attorney

In custody cases, the Courts will rule in a manner that they believe is in the best interest of the child, which may not comport with what is in the best interest of their parents. If you are faced with a custody dispute, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options. At Doppelt and Forney APLC, our trusted child custody attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue a favorable outcome in consideration of the facts of your case. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential conference.

Contact Information