People want to move away with their children after divorce for many reasons. Sometimes a parent has an employment opportunity out of state, or they may want to move to be closer to family. Regardless of the reason, there is a specific process to follow when you want to move away with your child. Below, our Salinas family lawyer explains the steps to follow when making your request.
While courts generally support a parent’s right to raise their child how and where they choose, some divorced or separated parents are surprised to learn that choosing to move away with their child may not be entirely up to them. The reason for making the move, as well as the supporting evidence presented to the court, will be critical in the outcome of the case. Talking with a knowledgeable family law lawyer before submitting your request can help you prepare a strong and well-organized petition.
When requesting a move, you must explain your reason for the move to the court, as well as why it is in the best interests of the child. Whether you are just moving across town or out of state, you must provide as many details as possible. You must also request permission from the court any time you are moving outside of the family court’s jurisdiction. Depending on if there are already existing final orders for custody, that legal standard that will be applied to your case will vary.
File your request, including the detailed reason for the move, with the court clerk. You may be given a number of court dates at this point.
After filing your case, you must serve the other parent with the paperwork. To legally serve these documents, you must have a third party that is over the age of 18, provide the service. The other parent then has the chance to respond. If the non-moving parent objects to the move, they then have the burden of proof to show that the move would be detrimental to the child (depending on what custody orders were already in place.) Many times, non-moving parents use the reasoning that a move would interfere with their ability to maintain a good relationship with the child.
After the non-moving parent responds, the case then enters the discovery period. During discovery, each side has the opportunity to ask for certain information from the other side. This information will help each side build an argument and establish what is in the best interests of the child.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. If you choose mediation to resolve your dispute, you and the other parent will meet with a mediator. The mediator is a neutral third party that will try to foster compromise and communication between each of you. If you can reach an agreement during mediation, there is no need to go to court. The court may also appoint a Custody Evaluator to meet with the child’s parents and the child, and to produce recommendations for the Judge.
An evidentiary hearing will be one of the last steps in the process of requesting a move away. Also known as bench trials, you and the other parent will both present arguments to the judge before the judge makes their final decision. The person requesting the move presents their case first at the evidentiary hearing, and it is important to have strong evidence showing why the move is in the best interests of the child. The judge may also hear from the child, depending on their age. Evidentiary hearings do not include a jury and usually only take a day or two to complete.
After the judge has heard from both sides at the evidentiary hearing, they will make their decision. This can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days. If there are complex issues involved in the case, it may take longer.
As with any court order, the courts expect all sides to uphold and abide by child custody orders. If either side fails to comply, they face serious penalties. If either party disagrees with the order, they can appeal the decision but they still must uphold the order until a new one is issued.
If you need to relocate with your child, our Salinas family lawyer at Miranda, Magden & Miranda can help with your request. We will help you create a strong argument for your case and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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