The Other Parent Moved Without Asking - Now What? / by Cassandra Hearn

The goal of the vast majority of California custody orders is to help maximize the amount of time that both parents are able to spend with the child. California courts and the legislature recognize that it is best for children to be able to maintain a close bond with both parents, which often is simplified by providing as much time with both parents as possible. However, after the entry of a child custody order, it is common for major changes to occur in the lives of one or both parents, including relocation.

When a custody order exists, the custodial parent is almost always required to provide notice to the non-custodial parent forty-five days in advance of an intended move out of state or out of county. The non-custodial parent then has the ability to oppose the relocation. Unfortunately, in some cases, the custodial parent will not abide by the notice provision and will relocate without providing the necessary notice. If the other parent in your case has relocated without providing you with the necessary notice, there are specific steps that you need to take.

Once you have determined that the other parent has actually relocated with the child, it is imperative that you act as quickly as possible. The longer you fail to take action, the easier it will be for the relocating parent to remain in the new residence with the child. For example, if you wait for six months, and the child has started a new school, made new friends, and become established in the new community, the custodial parent will have a stronger argument that it will be best for the child to remain in the new town.   

The first step is to speak with a lawyer. Moves include complicated legal issues.  Your legal pleadings could include a request that the child has to be returned, or for a complete change of custody based on the fact that the custodial parent ignored an existing court order, among other factors. Courts may view the relocation without notification as an attempt by the custodial parent to alienate you from the child and to undermine the relationship, and in some cases it may consider the move to be contempt or even kidnapping. Judges take an extremely negative view of this sort of behavior, and it could have serious repercussions on the parent who relocated without providing notice.

If you have questions about your rights when the other parent has relocated, you should act quickly. Call us today at 619-800-0384 and talk to use as soon as possible about your child and your rights.