Out-of-State Moves and Child Custody Under California Law
In today’s highly mobile society, families frequently move for career reasons. Also, when couples divorce, the custodial parent may move to be closer to an extended family member who can help with the transition to the post divorce lifestyle.
California laws support the custodial parent’s ability to move if it is in the child’s best interests. However, parents must inform the court of any moving plans, especially when moving out of state. Under the California Family Code Section 7501
, custodial parents are entitled to move but are subject to the court’s power to restrain a residence change that prejudices the rights or welfare of the child.
The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is another law pertinent to out-of-state moves. It clarifies which courts have jurisdiction over child custody when moves occur. To consider a state the child’s home state, the UCCJEA requires that the child live there for a minimum of six months. Six months after a move, the new home state would have jurisdiction to make custody decisions.
If you are planning on relocating during divorce, explain this fact to your California family law attorney so the divorce terms and conditions can address the move. If your planned move is after the court issues a final divorce decree, you should also seek legal help. An experienced attorney can review the terms and conditions of the decree and help you comply with any rules established by the court.
Typically, custody modification becomes necessary to maintain contact with the children after one parent moves out-of-state, no matter which parent moves. Courts generally extend visitation time for the non-custodial parent by allowing longer visitation periods, such as holiday breaks or longer time during summer vacation instead of weekend visits.