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What if you want to leave California with your kids post-divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2024 | Child Custody |

A California divorce often means many drastic changes to someone’s life. They cease living with their spouse and have to separate their finances. If they share children, they also need to negotiate arrangements for sharing parenting time and parental authority. Those who have finished a California divorce are bound by the orders handed down by the judge hearing their case. They may have orders describing how they should divide their property with their spouse and also a custody order talking about parenting time and other parental responsibilities.

Once those orders are in place, people may start looking at ways to rebuild their lives. Sometimes, they may look for more affordable living arrangements, which might necessitate that they leave California. Other times, they might want to move closer to family members for childcare support or start a new relationship. Can someone with a shared custody order in California potentially leave the state with their children after their divorce?

California often limits relocations with children

A relocation or move-away scenario could very likely prompt conflict between co-parents. Both adults could so very strongly about the situation and may worry that a decision not in their favor could negatively affect their relationship with their children. For example, if a parent seeks to relocate but does not get permission to take the children with them, they might have a hard time accessing the children after the move. However, a parent who does not intend to relocate might worry that the other parent moving away with the children could negatively affect their parental rights.

Sometimes, parents can discuss the move and reach a determination that everyone agrees is reasonable. If the parents agree, they can go back to court to modify an existing custody order with few complications. If they disagree about the move, then they may need to litigate. Having both parents spend plenty of time with the children is usually in their best interests, but the courts also consider the secondary needs of the children too, including the need for financial stability and social support. Judges potentially have the authority to grant a relocation request and allow parents to move if there is a good reason for requesting the move.

Before someone begins planning the practical aspects of a move out of California, they first need to make sure that they can legally take their children with them. Understanding how California approaches relocation or move-away requests may benefit parents who worry about maintaining a relationship with their children even as their circumstances change.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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