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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

The rules surrounding relocation with a child after divorce

You probably don’t need to be told just how high the cost of living is in this area. After a divorce, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to be unable to continue to reside here.

The high cost of living may not be the only reason you’re considering relocation. A new job, a desire to live closer to your family or other life events may dictate that it’s in your best interest to move. The question many parents have is whether their child will be able to make the move with them.

Relocation rules in California

If a parent with custody wants to move, they’ll need permission from the court before doing so. This is true if you’re moving to a different part of the state or if you’re leaving the state of California altogether.

How this plays out in court depends on the type of custody arrangement you have with your ex-spouse.

  • If you have sole physical custody of the child, you’ll generally be able to make the move unless your ex-spouse can demonstrate that relocation will harm the child.
  • If you have joint physical custody with your ex-spouse, you’ll need to illustrate that the move is in the best interest of the child.

How is the best interest of the child determined?

California courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making decisions surrounding custody and other related issues. The court will weigh these considerations when determining what the child’s best interest is.

  • The health, safety and welfare of the child
  • The history of abuse among those seeking custody of the child
  • The types of contact the child has with each parent
  • Whether illegal substances are used by either parent

The court may also consider other relevant factors, including the child’s age, ties to the community and whether each parent has the financial wherewithal to care for the child.

The legal issues surrounding relocation can be complex. While it’s best to consider relocation before the custodial arrangement is finalized, there may be steps you can take afterwards to help you achieve a result that’s in your and your child’s best interest.

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