“I am the primary custodial parent. Can I move out of state with my child?”

The answer to this question depends, in part, on where you are in the process of either a divorce or parentage case. If you are during the litigation phase BEFORE trial, the answer is that you need the permission of the judge to move out of the jurisdiction of the court. This can include in-state moves as well, if they are out of the county. You will need to file a Request For Order which states your reasons for requesting the move.

If you are post judgment (meaning that you are already divorced or have a paternity judgment) then you need to look carefully at your judgment. In many cases, the judgment will address the issue directly: there are boxes that can be checked on the standard judgment form that prohibit moving without a court order or written consent from the other parent. In those cases, the procedure is clear: file a Request For Order with the court. If the issue is NOT addressed in the judgment, then you need to serve the opposing party with written notice of the proposed move 45 days in advance of the move. This gives the other party 45 days to have a hearing if they so desire contesting the move. If they do not file a motion, you are free to move after 45 days.

Oftentimes, moves happen quickly, and people move without following the procedures. This risks the judge making return orders, or even changing custody. It is important to keep in mind that moves with children MUST be planned in advance. Following the proper steps (however difficult it might be in your particular circumstances) will ensure that you don’t have a much bigger problem down the road.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.