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Can I relocate with my child after my California divorce?

California courts recognize that the circumstances of your divorce decree may not stand the test of time. Occasionally, events unfold in our lives years after divorce that are beyond our control. These changing circumstances may affect the current custody order related to the possession of your child. A lucrative job offer in another city or state, military obligations, remarriage or even a move to a better community are some of the circumstances that a California family law judge may consider in child custody cases.

It is important for you to know that California courts are not going to do anything that is going to be detrimental to a parent's relationship with his or her child. This applies regardless of whether you provide the child's primary residence or if you are the non-custodial parent.

Typically, the party who is seeking relocation must file documents and petition the court for a review of the standing custody order. In most cases, the court will take a look at how each party has historically behaved with regards to the current custody order. In other words, the court will want to examine the nature of the relationship between both parties and the child. For example, the court will want to know if the relocation is an attempt by one parent to spite the other.

If relocation is going to be an issue for you, there are several things that you should know. An attorney experienced in family law can prove extremely beneficial to your case whether you are seeking relocation or attempting to stop it. An attorney can argue the merits of relocation on your behalf or demonstrate to the court how relocation might adversely affect your relationship with your child.

Maintaining a good relationship with your child is always a good idea regardless of which side of the relocation issue you currently find yourself. By staying proactive and making sure you have exercised all of your custodial time with your child, you can demonstrate your level of involvement with your child to the court. Attending school functions, doctor's appointments, getting to know your child's teachers and generally staying involved in your child's life can enhance your legal position regarding relocation.

Source: California courts. The Judicial Branch of California, "Changing a custody order," accessed April. 16, 2015

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