If I have sole legal and physical custody, can I move out of state?

We live in CA and I would like to move to another state. My current court order is that I have sole legal and physical custody and I would like to move. Would I be violating a court order if I did? Ex has visitation every other week-end.

Asked on March 28, 2011 under Family Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unless your custody agreement directly addresses this issue, since you are the parent seeking to move out-of-state with the minor children, you must request the court's permission (whether or not you have sole physical/legal custody).  A move without such permission could mean that you are in contempt of court and accordingly you could be charged with parental kidnapping.  The court will look at the best interests of the child in making such a determination and the burden will be on you to help persuade the court that a move should be allowed.  While each petition is reviewed on a case-by-case analysis, there are numerous factors the court considers in determining whether removal is appropriate.  These factors include, but are not limited to: 

  • The motivations of the parent desiring the relocation.
  • The motivation of the parent opposing the move.
  • The advantages of relocation in terms of its capacity to improve the life of the minor child.
  • Any disadvantages of relocation on the minor child.
  • The likelihood that a reasonable visitation schedule can be arranged which will preserve and foster the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent.
  • A chance to bond with extended family members. 
  • The likelihood that the parent desiring the move will comply with visitation orders after they have relocated to another state.

A parent who wishes to relocate because of a job, new spouse, or to care for sick relatives will have a stronger case than a parent who simply wants to move away from the non-custodial parent. 

Finally, remember, if there is a court order in place it must be followed until it is modified.  Going about this move in a legal and proper way is the best protection for you and your child in the long run. 

 


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