Joint custody arrangements require a commitment on the part of both parents to provide support and spend time with their children. In some cases, however, circumstances may arise that require one parent to move away from the area in which their children live on a part-time or full-time basis. If your former spouse has let you know that he or she is planning to move away from the Fresno area, you may need to make adjustments to your visitation and custody schedule or even go to court to ensure that your children’s best interests are considered during this decision-making process.
The Provisions of California Law
Most custody orders prohibit moving the children without first obtaining written notarized consent from both parents, or a prior court order. Others require advance written notice. In all cases it is best to attempt resolution by an agreement that considers your child’s or children’s best interests and meets both parents’ needs. The court will decide on the issue for you if you cannot come to a mutually acceptable solution.
Factors Considered in a Relocation Hearing
California judges will consider a number of key factors when determining whether a relocation is in the best interest of a minor child or children. Some of the most important topics that will be discussed during the hearing may include the following:
- The distance of the proposed move
- The effect this move will have on the ability of the other parent to spend time with the child
- The current relationship between the two parents
- The potential disruption of relationships with friends and extended family
- The reason that the parent is choosing to move
- The effects on the child’s emotional stability and security
- Changes in educational institutions, medical care facilities and religious observances
- The child’s relationship with each parent
If the court allows the move, both parents will need to make arrangements to continue joint custody and to ensure adequate visitation rights for the non-custodial parent. If the court denies the request to move, the judge may change the custody arrangement to meet the best interests of the child or children and to ensure the greatest possible stability for these young members of your family.
Mediation Allows for Greater Flexibility
Couples that use mediation to negotiate the details of their divorce in California can often find mutually acceptable custody and visitation arrangements without the time and expense involved in court proceedings. This can often provide you and your former partner with a framework where you can discuss the needs of your children in a calm and cooperative manner. If you cannot come to a resolution of the situation during mediation proceedings, the court system will still be available to hand down a decision that considers the interests of all parties and puts the welfare of your children first.
For most couples, choosing mediation can offer real benefits during the divorce process and during other discussions after the divorce has been finalized. This flexibility can be especially helpful for you in renegotiating custody and visitation arrangements when your former spouse informs you of their plan to relocate away from your local area.