In an ideal world, separated parents would reside close to one another to co-parent their children until their children emancipate. We do not live in this world. Parents move for many reasons. When a parent is separated and wants to move out of state or even hours away from where the other parent resides, what do the parents do?
Moving with kids while you separated
Moving with your kids when separated is possible. If the parents are able to communicate effectively, they can work out a new child-sharing agreement. The goal is to give the children frequent and continuous contact with both parents.
Unfortunately, more often than not, parents cannot reach agreements regarding a move-away situation for various reasons. If you are a parent seeking a move-away, you cannot move away without a court order if the other parent opposes the move. If you are the parent opposing the move-away, some legal safeguards are in place to ensure your side will be heard.
In move-away cases, the court heavily relies upon the factors set forth in La Musga (pronounced La moo shay). Factors for a move away include the reason for the move, ties to the current community, ties to the new community, bond with the parents, and several other factors set forth in La Musga. The court uses the “best interest of the child” standard while weighing the La Musga factors. The court does this to determine if the move will be a detriment or benefit to the child.
Joint legal custody
If you and your co-parent have joint legal custody, and you each have significant parenting time, a move-away can take a long time to resolve unless the parents are able to reach an agreement. The legal process for starting a move-away begins with the parent seeking the move and filing a Request for Order (RFO). The non-moving parent that opposes a move-away must respond to this initial RFO no later than 9 court days prior to the hearing date.
California courts typically send the parties to Family Court Services prior to a hearing. Sometimes, courts will appoint a minor’s counsel to represent the children if the court deems there is a need. A parent may ask for an evidentiary hearing. The court has broad discretion to grant the request for an evidentiary hearing. An evidentiary hearing is similar to a family law trial. You can have witnesses testify and present other evidence for the court to consider.
When one parent has to move, it is not easy for any party. It is difficult for the parents, but for your children as well. It is essential during this process not to involve your children in the court proceedings or
discuss your position on the move.
If you find yourself in a move-away situation, moving with kids when separated or going through a divorce, the attorneys at Burgos Santoyo Smith, Inc. are experienced in these complicated cases and are available to help.