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Moving while you have custody of your children in California

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2022 | Child custody and child support

Custody arrangements can be tricky even in the best of times. Once the court decides on custody, everything may be fine until one parent decides to move. This can create significant conflict between divorced parents.

What happens when you decide to move and have a court ordered custody schedule with your former spouse?

Sole custody

Even if you have sole custody, also known as primary physical custody of child or children, you CANNOT move away or relocate their residence under California law. IF YOU MOVE, the Orange County family law court can and likely will order you to return the children to Orange County. Additionally, if you make such a move without a court order, you will be seen by the court as a litigant with a ‘black hat’ which can adversely impact you relative to future discretionary decisions made by the court.

The same rules apply whether you have a temporary or permanent custody order.

Joint custody

With a joint custody order, it may be a different story. If you have joint custody and want to move with the child or children, depending on your time share, there may be a different burden of proof relative to the desired move.


Ultimately in cases of custody and relocation, it will depend on what is in the best interest of the child or children. This is something you should carefully consider before attempting to move. Most importantly, before you make any plans to relocate with the children, consult with an Orange County family law attorney who is experienced in and has actually tried many of these cases.