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How is child custody resolved if one parent wants to move?

As most Californians realize, life can be uncertain - especially after a divorce. Most people treat the entry of the final decree dissolving the marriage and settling issues of child custody and support as the last step of an emotionally draining journey. Unfortunately, many things can happen thereafter that may only reopen old wounds. One of the most devastating events is the potential relocation of one of the parents.

If the moving parent is also the sole custodial parent, that parent is allowed to move to another state unless the non-custodial parent is able to prove that such a move would cause harm to the children. If the court has ordered, or if the couple was able to agree upon, joint physical custody of the children, and if one parent opposes a move by the other parent, the parent who wishes to move must prove that the move will be in the best interests of the children.

A somewhat different situation arises if one parent fears that the other parent is going to unilaterally move to another state without informing the court or obtaining permission. In these situations, the advice of an experienced family lawyer can help avoid profound heartache. All fifty states have adopted the Uniform child custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which is designed to provide a uniform mechanism for resolving these disputes if spouses are in different cases and if the states have different custody laws.

As can be inferred, the issue of custody can raise complex and difficult questions. In these situations, most people will wish to confer with an attorney who has experience in handling these issues. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide a helpful analysis of the situation and the laws that govern the case and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Source: California Judicial System, "'Move-Away' Situations," accessed on April 24, 2017

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