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Child custody and relocation

As much as divorce can change one's life, life itself must go on. This need to move on and the legal effects of divorce can often interweave, though, leaving Californians with significant legal questions. Nearly every aspect of family law can be affected by these situations, including property division and spousal support.

Yet, one of the more long-lasting issues is child custody. Parents' behaviors, such as substance abuse and domestic violence, can necessitate the need for a child custody or visitation modification, and noncustodial parents may find themselves wanting to spend more time with their children, again raising the need for modification. Another contested child custody and visitation issue arises when a custodial parent wants to move away from the noncustodial parent, for whatever reason. This is known as parental relocation.

These so-called "move-away" situations can be challenging to handle. Generally speaking, if a parent has sole custody over his or her child, then the move will be approved unless the noncustodial parent can show that the move will cause harm to the child. On the other hand, if the parents share custody, then the burden is on the moving parent to show that the move is in the best interests of the child. However, although the court will look at the legal arrangement between the parents denoting sole or shared custody, it will often look at the actual parenting time to determine whether a move is in the child's best interests.

Depending on the circumstances, either moving away from a parent or remaining near a parent can be paramount for a child. So, whether a parent wants to move for employment purposes or simply to get away from the child's other parent, it may be wise to discuss the matter with a family law attorney who can help him or her craft a compelling legal argument that supports his or her, as well as the child's, best interests.

Source: California Courts, "'Move-Away' Situations," accessed on Dec. 18, 2016

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