When you share joint custody with your ex, the idea of a big life change such as moving can be scary. The results can be uncertain and what will happen is at the discretion of a judge. If you are the parent of a child and want to move away or if your ex wants to relocate and move the child with them, what’s next? How far you can move with your child is determined by many factors.
Joint Custody & Parental Relocation
If you are planning to relocate with your child, you should know about the process you’ll need to go through to legally relocate. There are steps that you must go through to get approved for relocating your child in the case of joint custody. The main takeaway is that the judge must find the move in the best interest of your child(ren).
When a joint custody order is already in place, parental relocation is considered a modification by the court. This means that it is a requested change to the existing order. In California, a move-away modification is necessary if a parent plans to move 50+ miles away from their local residence, although, in large, unclear areas, this can be less.
The current parental schedule will be considered when approving or disapproving the modification. The modification can be filed by the parent looking for permission to relocate, or by the remaining parent who wishes to update the custody agreement so that they don’t lose time with their child(ren). When parents share joint custody, the court has a lot more to consider in determining if the move-away can happen. The courts must decide that the move is not harmful to the child in any way in order to approve it.
Many things matter when it comes to whether your child will be allowed to relocate with you, and how far you can relocate:
- The accessibility of the move – this has to do with distance and expenses related to visitation by the other parent if the move is approved.
- The current visitation schedule – This will take into account how much time the child spends living with each parent and the effect this time has on the child(ren).
- The child’s relationship with each parent – The child’s feelings matter when approving a move-away order, but the judge will also determine what is in their best interest. They will also consider the age and needs of the child.
- The support network – This considers the family and friends, and support system living nearby the child. Will there be a larger network for the child in the proposed residence or are they being taken away from a current community?
- The reason behind the move – Was one parent offered a job? Are they remarrying? Or are they seeking to separate one parent from their child?
- The relationship between the parents – The judge wants the parent who is the most reliable when it comes to maintaining and encouraging continual communication and contact between the child and their other parent.
You can work with a lawyer to file for a modification to your joint custody agreement. The distance you can move can only be determined by a judge. They can help you gather documents and evidence to support that the move is in the best interest of the child. They can also work with your ex to try and come to an agreement to the custody order that you both are satisfied with, which you can then take to court for approval.
If you live in San Jose, Santa Clara, or the surrounding communities, contact Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys offer complimentary 30-minute virtual consultations to clients. Set yours up here.