To determine if one parent can relocate and move the children to another state, you must first determine if there are any custody orders, and if so, if one parent has been awarded temporary or permanent custody of the children.
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California Move Away Order
California move away order is one parent’s request to the court to move their child to a new residence located outside of their current city, county, state, or country. Regardless of the distance of the planned relocation, move away cases are among the most complex of all family law cases. It is important to note that each move-away case is decided on a case-by-case basis. This means that many factors will be considered in deciding whether a move away order will be granted in your case. The outcome of your case will depend on the facts of your case, as well as the judge that your case is assigned.
One Parent has Sole Custody in California
If one parent has been granted a permanent order for sole physical custody by a California Family Law Court, that parent will be permitted to move away with the children unless the other parent can show that the move would be harmful the children.
Parents have Joint Custody in California
If the parents have joint physical custody of the children and the other parent does not want the children to relocate, the parent that wants to move with the children must show the court that the move is in the best interests of the children.
Although the parents may share custody under a parenting agreement entered into when custody was awarded, this can be challenged by the actual time the parents spend with the children. The parent who actually spends more time with the children will have more influence on any decision a judge may order.
California Parenting Plans
Even if one parent is permitted to move with the children, the other parent can still make a parenting plan that takes into consideration the changes in visitation to maximize the time they will be able to spend with their children. One frequently used technique is to use the Internet and “virtual visitation” through web-based camera technology.
Traveling with Children Outside California
You should carefully review any California Family Law Court Order to determine your existing custody and visitation times. Make sure that there are no restrictions on you leaving the State of California or the United States with the children. If there are any such travel restrictions, then you will need to get a court order or, the other parent’s permission. Remember, you cannot make travel arrangements that will affect the other parent’s court-ordered visitation unless, that parent gives their permission or you obtain a court order allowing you to do so.
When traveling with children, you should always keep with you a copy of the most recent court order. You may need to show the custody order and your right to travel with the children to border patrol, airport staff, or other law enforcement officers.
Which State Makes Custody Orders?
If you are trying to obtain a custody order and the other parent lives in different state, generally, the state where the children are domiciled, will be the state that has jurisdiction to determine, or modify, custody and visitation. All states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which sets forth the standards for when a court may make a custody decision and when a court must accept an existing decision from another state.
A state may make a custody decision about a child if any of the following are true:
- The state is where the child has lived for the last 6 months.
- The state is one where the child has significant connections with people in the state; requires proof that the children’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships are based in this state.
- The state where the child is located is where the child has been abandoned or is in danger of being abused or neglected if sent back to the other state.
Remember, only one state can make a decision on custody and once the first state makes a custody decision, another state cannot make another “initial” decision or modify the existing order.
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