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If you are a parent looking to relocate your child or you oppose the intended relocation of your child, it is essential that you contact a seasoned, knowledgeable Los Angeles move-away attorney immediately. At Fernandez & Karney, our attorneys will ensure all of your custody issues are addressed and achieve the best outcome possible for your case.
The Los Angeles move-away and relocation lawyers at Fernandez & Karney are:
- Experienced in successfully negotiating and litigating move-away cases
- Determined and driven to meet your child custody goals
- Honest and reliable sources of legal advice and counsel
Call Fernandez & Karney today to discuss your case. Attorneys Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney have over 55 years of combined experience exclusively handling family law cases. Additionally, both Steve and Mark are Certified Family Law Specialists, which means they achieved the highest level of expertise in family law-related matters.
Let Our Los Angeles Move-Away & Relocation Attorneys Help You
The prospect of a move is stressful. Adjusting to a new home, job, school, and daily routine can be overwhelming, especially as a parent. However, there are child custody matters that you must consider and attend to prior to solidifying any plans in your chosen destination.
California has move-away and relocation laws that moving parents must abide by whenever a proposed move will affect the custody rights of the other parent. Not only must the non-moving parent be informed of the move, but they have the opportunity to oppose and file an objection to the move in family court.
A Los Angeles moving and relocation attorney from Fernandez & Karney is your advocate and best source of information from the very beginning of your relocation case to the end. Our attorneys will stand beside you and guide you, acting as your counselor both inside and outside the courtroom. We know how important a relocation is to you and your child’s relationship and will fight tirelessly on your behalf.
Fernandez & Karney is experienced in these matters and knows the court system, opponents, judges, and any potential obstacles in the way of your desires for yourself and your child. We are prepared to present your case in the best possible light to the court.
We will do the following and more for you:
- Determine there is a valid reason for a move
- Build a trial-ready argument to defend your position on any upcoming move
- Meet all statutory requirements, including court deadlines for hearings on objections and motions to modify custody and visitation.
Letting a skilled attorney from Fernandez & Karney handle your relocation matter will ensure you are not violating California child custody and relocation laws. This will keep you from legal trouble or jeopardizing your parental rights.
Do not leave anything to chance when it comes to your relationship with your child. Contact an experienced Los Angeles child move-away and relocation attorney at Fernandez & Karney to successfully navigate the intricacies and complexities of your relocation case.
What is a Move-Away Case in Los Angeles?
A “move-away” case occurs when one parent asks the court’s permission to move the child(ren) far enough away from the other parent to disrupt custodial or visitation time. Regardless of the actual distance, if the move impacts the current custody agreement, the moving parent will need to request a new child custody and visitation order.
Due to the potential consequences of approving or denying a move-away request, the court considers several factors before making any relocation ruling.
California’s Child Custody & Relocation Laws
Parents across California seek to move with their children for various reasons including, but not limited to:
- The desire to change jobs
- The need or preference to be closer to family
- To continue an education
Whenever a move is necessary, the non-moving parent may raise concerns about child visitation and the move overall.
In California, a parent with sole physical custody of a child has the presumptive right to change the child’s residence, subject to the court’s ability to prevent a relocation that would “prejudice the rights or welfare” of the child. This statute is found in Family Code 7501, which states the following:
- A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child; and
- It is the intent of the Legislature to affirm the decision in In re Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 Cal.4th 25 and to declare that ruling to be the public policy and law of this state.
Moreover, the custodial parent does not have to show that the move is “necessary,” assuming the parent is moving in good faith. (See Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 Cal.4th 25).
The following offers examples of how different types of legal and physical child custody affect the court’s decision-making process when approving or denying child relocation.
When a Parent with Custody Wants to Move
A non-custodial parent can challenge a custodial parent’s relocation through a custody modification. However, a custody modification must be based on a substantial change in circumstances rendering it “essential or expedient for the welfare of the children” that there be a custody change.
In other words, the non-custodial parent must prove the proposed move would be detrimental to the child. Examples of this may include:
- A detriment to the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent
- A disturbance in the child’s need for continuity and stability as reflected in the current custody arrangement
If parents can reach an agreement regarding a proposed move, they can submit a new child custody and visitation proposal to the court for approval. Without an agreement or a court order, a custodial parent cannot move away with the child.
If a custodial parent interferes with the other parent’s rights to visitation by relocating without an agreement or an order, that parent is subject to criminal penalties and fines under California Penal Code Section 278.5. This is considered child abduction.
It does not matter if the non-custodial parent has not regularly exercised their visitation rights. The custodial parent must obtain the court’s approval before a move.
When a Move-Away Parent has Joint Physical Custody
When parents exercise joint physical custody, the court must approach a move-away case de novo. This means that the court decides child custody and visitation as new matters before the court, and any arrangements are based on the child’s “best interests.”
In the context of child custody cases, the child’s “best interests” refers to the court’s ultimate goal of fostering and encouraging the child’s happiness, security, mental health, and emotional development into young adulthood. For a full definition of best interests and its defining factors, see California Family Code 3011, 3020, and 3040.
The de novo standard only applies if the parents genuinely practice joint physical custody. If the move-away parent already exercises the majority of physical custody, then the Burgess standard is applied. This is because the move-away parent already has “de facto” physical custody.
Among the factors considered by the court when deciding a custody modification based on the custodial parent’s proposal to move are the following:
- The children’s interest in stability and continuity in the custodial arrangement
- The distance of the move
- The age of the children
- The children’s relationship with both parents
- The relationship between the parents including, but not limited to, their ability to communicate and cooperate effectively and their willingness to put the interests of the children above their individual interests
- The wishes of the children if they are mature enough for such an inquiry to be appropriate
- The reasons for the proposed move
- The extent to which the parents currently are sharing custody
When No Custody Order is in Place
When no final custody order is in place at the time of the proposed move, then a move-away request is decided solely on the “best interest of the child” standard. The court must consider all relevant factors, whether the move-away is part of an initial custody proceeding or a modification.
If a parent has no custody order in place, that parent must obtain a child custody order before proceeding with any move-away proceeding. If a parent has visitation but wants primary physical custody of their child, that parent must petition the court to modify their child custody orders.
All custody proceedings can be lengthy and are prone to difficulties. It is vital to seek legal advice from a Los Angeles move-away and relocation lawyer and retain experienced counsel before attempting any custody process.
When a Proposed Move is International
International moves are held to the same scrutiny as domestic cases. The court considers the best interest of the child and all of the factors accompanying this standard. As with domestic cases, the non-moving parent will need to show that the relocation would be detrimental to the child.
While international move-away orders are challenging to obtain, they are not impossible. However, these cases can create complex legal issues, and both parents need experienced child custody attorneys to advise them.
Primary Considerations During a Child Relocation Hearing
When considering a child relocation, the court must ensure that the child’s relationship with both parents is protected. The court must weigh the moving parent’s constitutional right to move freely across the state and country against the child’s right to have frequent and continuing contact with the non-moving parent.
In relocation proceedings, the court is concerned with the effect relocation will have on the child, including their health and financial stability. The court often enlists the assistance of a child custody evaluator to determine what custody arrangements are in the best interest of the child.
California’s Legal Process and Move-Aways
Getting a move-away order requires the moving parent to file paperwork with the court that includes the reasons they want to move and how the move is in the best interest of their child. Once filed, the court will schedule one or more hearings to determine if the move is indeed in the child’s best interests and should be granted.
The court strives to obtain custody arrangements that ensure the child has “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents. Therefore, any move-aways should include proposed and manageable visitation schedules with the other parent.
Once a case is filed by the moving parent requesting permission to relocate, copies of the documents are served on the other parent. The other parent then has a time frame to object to the move and possibly request a custody modification.
It is the non-moving parent’s burden to show that a move would be detrimental to the child. There most frequent and compelling argument used is that the proposed move would frustrate the relationship between the non-moving parent and the child.
Should the non-moving parent file a custody modification, that parent must prove that changing custody would be in the best interest of the child. The court may modify primary custody based on a move-away if that move is not in the best interest of the child.
However, without some other significant change in circumstances, the court is unlikely to grant a custody change upon a request for relocation.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Move-Away Attorney
Fernandez & Karney is very successful in Los Angeles parental relocation and move-away cases. Our team of Los Angeles move-away and relocation attorneys works hard to ensure all parties remember that the real focus in any custody dispute is the child. We strive toward a result that is in the best interests of the child and works for all parties involved.
For more information on move-away and relocation issues, contact us for a free consultation to discuss your concerns. When you retain Fernandez & Karney, you have a team of experienced Los Angeles child move-away and relocation lawyers, forensic accountants, investigators, and highly skilled support staff resolving your case.