Are you considering a move with your child but unsure how it will affect your custody arrangement? Or, perhaps, are you facing a move-away order situation where the other parent wants to move, and you’re worried about losing time with your child? Move-away custody cases in California can be complicated and emotional. This guide will help you understand the process and give you five key tips to increase your chances of a successful outcome.

How to Win a Move-Away Custody Case

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Winning a move-away custody case in California requires a well-thought-out strategy and a deep understanding of the legal framework involved. Here are five essential tips to help you succeed.

1. Talk to Your Co-Parent About the Relocation Plan First

Before taking legal action, discuss your relocation plans with your co-parent. This conversation can help ease the transition and may lead to a mutual agreement, making the legal process smoother and less contentious. Being open and transparent about your reasons for moving and how it benefits your child can foster cooperation. 

This step also shows the court that you are acting in good faith and considering the other parent’s relationship with the child. It’s important to be prepared to address their concerns and to discuss how you plan to maintain their involvement in your child’s life, such as through visitation schedules and communication plans​​. Engaging in a respectful and honest dialogue can potentially avoid a lengthy court battle and demonstrate to the court your commitment to co-parenting effectively.

Before pursuing a move-away order, understand the legal framework that governs such cases in California Family Code 7501 and the LaMusga Factors. California Family Code 7501 grants a parent with custody the presumptive right to move with the child, but this right is not absolute. The court can deny the move if it harms the child’s welfare​. 

The LaMusga factors guide judges in these decisions. These include evaluating the distance of the move, the reasons behind the move, the child’s relationship with both parents, and how the move affects the child’s stability and well-being​. These factors help determine what is in the child’s best interest. Courts also consider whether the move supports the child’s educational and emotional needs and whether the non-moving parent can maintain a meaningful relationship with the child​​. Familiarizing yourself with these legal aspects and preparing your case accordingly can significantly impact the outcome of your move-away request.

3. Prepare the Requirements of Relocation Petition

To prepare for a relocation petition in California, you must follow specific legal steps to comply with the requirements and improve your chances of approval. Start by providing written notice to the non-relocating parent at least 60 days before the intended move. This notice should include the new address, phone number, and a proposed revised custody and visitation schedule. If the non-relocating parent consents, you can jointly modify the custody arrangement. If they object, you must file a petition with the court.

Your petition should comprehensively outline the reasons for the move, like seeking better educational opportunities, proximity to supportive family members, or a safer neighborhood. We advise that you document these benefits with concrete examples like school ratings or family support details at the new location. Additionally, demonstrate that you have planned the logistics to maintain the child’s relationship with the other parent. This can be done by proposing practical visitation schedules, using technology to maintain regular communication, and possibly even covering travel expenses for visits. Given the complexity of these cases, seeking legal counsel on how to file a move-away order is advisable to ensure all procedures are correctly followed and your case is well-presented​​​.

4. Know the Reasons a Judge Will Deny Relocation

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Judges may deny a relocation for several reasons that focus on the child’s best interests. One key factor is the potential negative impact on the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent in the event of a relocation. The judge may deny the request if there’s no solid plan to maintain the relationship between the child and non-moving parent, and if the move is motivated by bad faith, such as to distance the child from the other parent or interfere with their visitation rights.

The judge also considers the stability and continuity of the child’s current environment. If the move causes major disruptions to the child’s education, social life, or emotional well-being, it may be denied for any of those reasons as well​. Furthermore, the effect of sole legal custody on a move-away order is significant. If you have sole legal custody, you may have more freedom to move, but the court will still consider the best interests of the child and does not intend to harm the other parent’s relationship with the child.

5. Seek an Experienced California Child Custody Attorney

When facing a move-away custody case, it is essential to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side. An experienced attorney can help you understand the legal process, prepare a strong relocation petition, and present compelling arguments in court. They will guide you through gathering necessary evidence, too, such as proof of better living conditions, educational opportunities, and family support in the new location​. They can also assist in creating feasible visitation plans to maintain the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent. Working with a skilled attorney ensures that all legal requirements are met and increases your chances of a favorable outcome.  

Get the Best Legal Support for Your Move-Away Case

With almost a century of combined years of experience handling complicated motions and extensive trial experience, Silva & Associates can provide the expertise you need to navigate your move-away case successfully. Let us help you prepare a detailed relocation petition that addresses all critical points and maximizes your chances of a favorable outcome. Contact us today, or fill out the form below, for a consultation and take the first step towards securing your child’s future.


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1. How Far Can a Parent Move With Joint Custody in California?

In California, if you have joint custody, moving more than 50 miles away generally requires the consent of the other parent or a court order. The distance is not strictly limited to 50 miles, as even shorter moves can be disruptive depending on the circumstances. Courts will consider factors like the existing custody arrangement, the impact on the child’s relationship with both parents, and the child’s best interests before approving a move.​ 

2. What if There Is No Custody Arrangement and a Parent Wants to Move Out of State With the Child?

If there is no custody agreement, you should not move out of state with the child without first obtaining a custody order from the court. Moving without permission can result in legal issues, and the other parent can file for an emergency custody order. It’s best to seek legal advice from an attorney to establish a formal custody arrangement before making any significant relocation decisions.​ 

3. How Does Sole Legal Custody Affect a Parent’s Ability to Move?

If a parent has sole legal custody, they generally have more freedom to move with the child, as courts presume the move is in the child’s best interest. However, the other parent can still challenge the move by showing it would harm the child. Factors considered include the reason for the move, the child’s relationship with both parents, and the potential impact on the child’s well-being​.