When parents in California get a divorce, they must decide what to do about child custody or go to court where a judge will decide. The situation will become much more complicated if the custodial parent decides to relocate with the child.

Parents who are considering relocating may want to talk to an attorney about state law and what might happen. If the other parent objects to the relocation, they may have to demonstrate in court that the child will not be significantly impacted by the move. This could mean showing that there will be an improvement in the child’s quality of life. Parents should keep in mind that even if they will benefit from a move in terms of getting a better job or being closer to a support system, the best interests of the child will still take priority. It may be necessary to show a connection between those things and an improvement for the child to convince the court.

Emotionally, the experience may still be difficult. Family and friends may judge the parent who moves, and parents may feel guilty for taking their child a long distance away from the other parent even when it is in their own and the child’s best interests. On the other hand, not moving can mean a parent has less support and fewer job opportunities.

Consulting an attorney may help a parent determine the strength of their case for relocation. A noncustodial parent might also want to consult an attorney to find out if it is possible to stop the other parent from moving away. There might be situations in which parents could agree to modify the child custody agreement. For example, a child who has a year left of high school may want to live with the noncustodial parent instead to finish school.