Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law provides collaborative divorce solutions to clients in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

After a divorce, are parents allowed to move out of state?

Finalizing your divorce will allow to you focus on the future. It is quite common for people to consider continuing their education or pursuing new accomplishments in their careers after the end of their divorce proceedings.

New job or career opportunities can come with complications after divorce, especially if you share custody of your children. Although by law you can move at any time, your children may not be able to move with you, so it is important to consider your relationship with your children and their needs before making a major change, such as an interstate relocation.

What does California require from parents who want to move from the state or move a significant distance away from their marital homes?

New agreements needed

In a move-away scenario where one parent will leave the state or move a distance significant enough to affect the parenting arrangements, that parent will need to communicate with the other parent and about a new parenting agreement.

Ideally, the other parent will be cooperative and will support a decision to relocate, whether the children are relocating with the parent or not. It is quite common for the parent who is not moving to question the move and worry about how it will impact their parenting arrangements. Parents can work together to reach a new parenting agreement which can be written up and filed with the court.

If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the parent who is moving  must file a request to modify the custody and timeshare arrangements with the California family court. In California, mediation is often necessary before litigating custody-related matters.

If the new parenting arrangements cannot be resolved in mediation, a judge will review the matter. The judge may order changes to existing parenting plan to ensure that the children continue to have a relationship with both parents.

Can the children be moved?

The children cannot be moved until an agreement is reached or until a court order allowing them to move is issued. Regardless of whether the children move, parenting plans will allow for visits, travel, and plans for holidays and the summer months. Often, if a parent moves away the children will spend longer periods of time with each parent, than when parents live close together. This often means that one parent will spend more time in the summer or school breaks with one parent and more time during the school year for the parent who lives where the children go to school.

Financial considerations

Move-away arrangements can also have child support implications. The timeshare plan might be different due to the move-away which will cause the child support amount to change. Also, if the children move with the move-away parent, the new support agreement or order will address who pays ravel costs related to visitation. It can be a challenge to resolve these issues and hiring professionals to help you have those conversations is your best option. Learning more about California’s laws regarding child custody can help parents who need to change existing child custody agreements.