The Orange County Family Law Firm

Hire the Firm Lawyers Hire

How Does Residence Relocation Affect Child Custody?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Child custody and child support

When a custodial parent – or the parent who has the children the majority of the time – plans a move that interferes with an existing child custody and visitation order, they need to address the matter with the other parent and with the Orange County court. Every child custody decision that California courts make is based on the best interests of the children, and if you’re a custodial parent who is considering a move or if your ex is proposing a move with your children, it’s time to consult with an experienced Orange County child custody attorney.

Planning a Move Outside Orange County

A move outside Orange County post-divorce is often part of the natural progression of things. You’ve endured one of life’s most challenging transitions, and a fresh start elsewhere may seem like exactly what you and your children need. In fact, there are many valid reasons for planning a move at this point in your life, including:

  • Pursuing a job opportunity
  • Living closer to extended family
  • Furthering your education
  • Affording your children increased opportunities or obtaining services they require

This list could go on and on, but when there are children involved, there are important family law considerations you’ll need to address.

Your Children’s Best Interests

When it comes to relocation cases – also called move away cases – any move that has the potential to interfere with your current parenting time orders must be resolved through the family law court. If you and your children’s other parent are in agreement on the proposed move, the court is almost certain to modify your orders accordingly. If, on the other hand, your ex is fighting the move, you’ll need to address the matter in the Orange County Superior Court – where it will be determined after hearing each sides positions. You and your spouse will have different stories. It matters who tells yours.

The primary factors the family law court will consider in relation to your proposed move with the children include all the following:

  • Your reason for moving
  • The distance of the proposed move
  • How the move will affect your children’s relationship with their other parent
  • Your current custody arrangements, timeshare, and the degree to which the proposed move will destabilize the status quo – if it’s working well for your children as is
  • Each of your children’s preferences – for those considered mature enough to participate
  • How the move will affect your children’s educational opportunities
  • The degree to which the move puts you closer to extended family and the support network they offer
  • Your ability to maintain your children’s current standard of living in relation to housing, social environment, community resources, and beyond
  • Proximity to services such as health care and education that your children will benefit from
  • Your ex’s overall commitment to maintaining a close, ongoing relationship with your shared children
  • The relationship between you and your ex and your ability to effectively co-parent

As an adult, you naturally have the right to move, but if you have child custody orders, your right to move a significant distance away with your children will hinge on your ability to hammer out a mutually acceptable plan with your ex or on the court’s assessment of the matter in relation to your children’s best interests.

The Orange County Court’s Position

In California, the matter of a move with the children is addressed from one of the following perspectives:

  • When the parent proposing a move has sole physical custody, they have the right to move unless the non-moving parent can show that doing so isn’t in the children’s best interests (with the court’s consent);
  • When the parents have joint physical custody – or when the noncustodial parent has a significant amount of parenting time – the parent proposing the move doesn’t have the right to move unless they can demonstrate that it’s in the children’s best interests.

California courts begin every child custody case with the presumption that joint custody is in the children’s best interests, and most divorced couples share joint custody in one form or another. This means that if you are considering a move with your children, you’ll likely need to prove that it’s in their best interests, and it’s well-advised to have skilled legal representation in your corner.

Beginning the Process of a Move Outside Orange County

If you share custody of your children with your ex and you’re planning a move with the kids, you’ll need to provide them – along with their attorney – written notice at least 45 days prior to your planned move. Blindsiding your ex with a rush to court, however, isn’t going to do you or your case any favors.

California courts favor parents who are committed to effective co-parenting, and a unilateral move like this on your part sends a very different message. A better place to start is by attempting to negotiate a mutually acceptable child custody modification that accommodates your ex’s interests in the matter. Taking the time to discuss all the following with your children’s other parent sets the stage for a civil legal process that is far more likely to support your proposed move:

  • Your plans, including the proposed location of the move
  • Your motivation for moving
  • How the move will benefit your shared children
  • Your commitment to supporting your ex’s ongoing relationship with your shared children and to accommodating a parenting time modification that works for everyone

Your seasoned child custody attorney will help guide your proposed move forward with as little turmoil as possible and with the best chance of gaining the court’s approval.

Discuss Your Plans to Move with an Experienced Orange County Child Custody Attorney Immediately

There are any number of reasons why a move may be just what you and your children need after a challenging divorce, but proceeding with care is advised. The dedicated Orange County child custody attorneys at Minyard Morris appreciate what’s at stake in relation to your proposed move and have the experience and legal insight to help make it happen – with as little legal fuss as possible. For more information, please contact or call us at 949-724-1111 today.

If you are planning to retain a child custody attorney, take the time to hire the “right” attorney. Rather than quickly selecting one of the over 600 family law attorneys in Orange County, retain the one that is aligned with your objectives, will be candid with you regarding the positives and negatives in your child custody case, and the one that will maximize your chances of prevailing.

Don’t be guilty of hiring a child custody lawyer based simply on the referral of a friend or neighbor. Do your own investigation. Compare the websites of each lawyer and law firm.