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Don’t Make a Move Before Planning to Move Away

With the kids off at their other parent’s house for parts of the summer, you might have a little bit more time to yourself over the coming weeks. And depending on what stage of your personal life or your career trajectory you’re at right now, you may also have time to think about making some big changes.

Perhaps you’re looking for a career change, or you want to move to the city where most of your family lives. Or maybe you’re toying with the idea of going back to school at an out-of-state university, or switching cities due to affordability.

Whatever your intentions, it’s crucial to think about how a possible move could affect your family dynamic. A divorce makes several areas of ex-partners’ lives challenging, and even more so where children and custody agreements are involved.

We at Ricklin & Associates offer the following considerations you should review before you make any major life-changing decisions:

The Process

Getting a move-away order is necessary if your move will impact you and your ex’s current custody agreement. The parent seeking permission to make the move will need to file a motion for a new custody arrangement, while the other parent will have the opportunity to file a motion for a change in the custody arrangement if they wish for their child not to move.

It’s important to note that the court won’t be making a decision about whether or not the parent in question can move away, but whether the child should have to move as well.

Be aware that getting a move-away order is typically a lengthy process. Don’t expect to be able to make your move in a matter of weeks; you can reasonably expect a move-away order to be issued in a minimum of six months. In most move-away cases, the process will involve filing for a move-away order, undergoing mediation sessions as well as a hearing, and obtaining a ruling on your case. It can take several months for each of these events to take place, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.

Custody Considerations

According to the California courts, the parent who maintains sole physical custody over the children is free to move with the children unless the other parent can prove that a move away would negatively impact or harm the kids. However, if there is a joint custody agreement, the parent seeking to move must prove that the move is in the children’s best interest. You can talk to a family law attorney for further clarification.

The Court’s Decision

A judge will consider the following factors when making a final decision in a move-away case. These can include:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s relationship with both parents
  • The relationship between both co-parents
  • The length of the child custody order
  • The distance the move requires
  • The reasons for the move

Think Beyond Yourself

Remember, even if you successfully go through all the legal requirements necessary for your big move, consider who may be affected by it. If you are the primary caretaker of your children, moving far away will undoubtedly have an impact on visitations. Not to mention, the life and relationships your children have already established will change as the result of moving away.

Weigh the pros and cons of a move and be sure your decision is based on the right reasons. You can seek legal counsel from a family law attorney if you need further advice.

What if You Haven’t Moved, But Your Children Have?

There’s no question about it; it’s a difficult situation when your children are living more than just a couple cities away. But with help from an attorney, you and your former spouse can create an agreement that enables you to still have substantial quality time with your children, perhaps over the summer months and major holidays.

In the meantime, you can still create meaningful time with your kids, even remotely. The benefit of living in a digital age is that you can coordinate a video chat with your child so that you still feel close to them, anytime.

We understand the challenges that a divorce or child custody dispute can put on a family, especially when a possible move is put into the equation. Whether your case is resolved through negotiations, mediation, arbitration or litigation, you can count on clear communication and skillful advocacy when you work with our firm. Contact Ricklin Family Law and let us guide you through every step of the legal processes your case requires.

Ricklin & Associates
2625 Townsgate Road
Suite 330
Westlake Village, CA 91361


Ricklin & Associates
2625 Townsgate Road
Suite 330
Westlake Village, CA 91361

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