Relocation Cases Part 1:
Relocation cases are some of the most heavily contested and complicated child custody disputes in our California family law firm. In this blog series, I’m going to break down the most common client questions and how they line up with what the court needs to consider in a relocation case.
What qualifies as a relocation?
Clients will often ask, “How far can I move without starting ‘move-away’ litigation?”
There are two possible scenarios:
1) The parties’ most recent court order for custody and visitation includes a geographic radius that dictates whether the parties must readdress the parenting plan with the court in the event of a relocation request. Simple and clear.
2) Pre-determined radius guidelines do not exist within prior court orders. That leaves the determination to common sense.
If a move is going to impact the current parenting plan significantly, making it impossible to maintain the visitation schedule or for one person to get the child to school or activities, then the orders will have to be revised in light of the move-away.
For example, if the parenting plan calls for Mom to have visitation on alternate weekends, even a move several hours away would not automatically require a full relocation assessment. The parenting plan is not being impacted significantly.
Contrast this to the situation where a move of only forty-minutes travel time will make it impractical for the child to have an equally shared (“50/50”) parenting plan during the school week when the commute to and from school would be too complicated.
Ultimately, it isn’t the distance that determines if there is a “move-away” as much as the impact the distance has on the status quo.
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