Two older people with their backs turned with child in between

Relocating With the Children After a Divorce

The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer Aug. 10, 2022

No matter how you feel about getting one, divorce provides the impetus for a new beginning. New beginnings are all about change. You and your ex-spouse are not the only people experiencing change. Your children’s lives have been changed forever as well.

Fresh starts may come with new places to live, sometimes far from where you have lived with your kids for a while. A divorced spouse may want to move for a better job opportunity, to be closer to family, to remarry, or simply to remove themselves from an unhealthy relationship. If that spouse has primary custody of the children, how does relocation after the divorce work?

Whether you are divorced, are considering it, or are somewhere in the process of getting one, and you want to know if you or your ex-spouse can relocate with your children, you no doubt have many questions. Is it possible? Yes. Can a relocation be stopped? Yes. Everything depends on the circumstances of your situation and your divorce.

If you have questions about custody and relocation after a divorce, The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer can help you find answers. We have helped dozens of families in San Jose, Morgan Hill, Pleasanton, Hayworth, Fremont, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County, California, address the relocation of children after divorce.

How Does Relocation Work in California?

The parent with a permanent order for primary physical custody of a child has a right to relocate with the child so long as the relocation does not cause any type of harm to the child’s best interests. If the noncustodial parent disagrees with the move, they can challenge it in court.

Likewise, if parents share joint primary custody and one parent objects to the move, that parent can challenge the move. The court will weigh the child’s best interests, not that of the parents. However, a custodial parent’s wish to move for a job that allows more time with the child, for example, may be as much in the parent’s best interests as the child’s.

Existing child custody orders and parenting plans, whether permanent or temporary, can be complicated. It is wise to consult with a child custody lawyer about relocating children at any time, including before you agree to a parenting plan with the other parent.  

Are There Notification Requirements for Relocation?

The parent must submit to the court a written notification of intent to relocate and serve the other parent if they plan to relocate the children for more than 30 days. Moreover, that notice should be submitted at least 45 days prior to the intended move.

The notice requirement gives the parents time to revise the court-ordered parenting plan if they both approve the move. If a parent wants to fight the move, they have time to present objections to the court for consideration.

What Factors Does the Court Consider in Relocation?

The court considers multiple factors when a parent wishes to relocate with children. The overriding factor, again, is the best interests of those children. Other factors include such issues as:

  • The children’s relationship with each parent;

  • The distance of the move and the reason for it;

  • Any harm the children would suffer in their relationship with the parent staying behind;

  • The effect on any other family and community relationships that would change if the children move;

  • The effect on the children’s physical, emotional, and educational needs and to their stability and well-being; and,

  • The ability of the parents to communicate effectively and with consideration with one another.

How Does Visitation Work for the Noncustodial Parent?

Naturally, the greater the distance between the children and the noncustodial parent, the more difficult it is for that parent to have visitation with them. Relocation demands that the existing parenting plan be revised to protect the noncustodial parent’s relationship with the children.

For example, in a long-distance move, the weekday and every-other-weekend visitation may be replaced by longer visits during the summer months or holidays. In-person visits may be replaced by virtual visits using computer and phone technology.

The relocating parent needs to accommodate the need of the other parent to maintain a personal relationship with the children despite the distance. The noncustodial parent needs to be flexible as well to maintain reasonable visitation.

Helping You Build a Plan

Family life, even when parents are no longer together and children no longer live nearby, must revolve around the children. Both parents will need to sacrifice to make that happen. At The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, we can help you build a plan for life after divorce and after the relocation of your children.

Let’s talk about your plan. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation. We’re here to help.