Can I Relocate with My Child After a Divorce in California?

A divorce brings about a great deal of changes. Whether it’s for work or family, parents oftentimes must move so that they can continue to do what’s most beneficial for them and their children. However, there are certain laws surrounding a parent’s right to relocate their child when custody orders are in place.

For any parents involved in a separation or divorce, it’s fundamental that you understand your rights to relocate your child. Otherwise, you may unintentionally break child custody orders and cause conflicts within your divorce order.

If you are attempting to move, it is greatly beneficial to learn more about move-away laws in California and how they can impact you.

Can You Relocate With Your Child After a California Divorce?

The short answer is yes. Parents can relocate with their children after a divorce but only under certain conditions. Whether a divorced parent is allowed to relocate with their child depends on multiple factors. This is because California judges are mandated to make their decisions while considering what is most beneficial for the child.

Generally, a child relocation or “move-away” case occurs when one parent is attempting to move 50+ miles away or far enough that it disrupts the custody agreement. Because moving such large distances can impact a child and court orders, a parent must request to relocate through their local family court.

Factors That Impact Your Ability to Relocate With Your Child

To relocate with your child, you’ll have to meet a variety of requirements in addition to the judge believing that the move is in the child’s interests. The biggest details that the court considers in a move-away case include the following:

  1. The Child Custody Agreement

    The child custody agreement that is a part of your divorce order is the most crucial factor in a move-away case. If sole custody is involved, it means that a noncustodial parent usually does not have the right to relocate with their child. With joint custody, a parent cannot move too far and disrupt the other parent’s ability to be with their child.

  2. The Distance a Parent Wants to Move

    In most situations, where a parent is looking to move small distances, this should not result in legal issues. However, when one parent is attempting to move far enough away that they cannot easily see their other parent, family members, or friends, the judge must consider this when making their decision.

  3. The Age of the Child Involved

    The age of a child can also affect their ability to move away comfortably. For example, moving a child as they get older tends to become more challenging because they must leave friends behind and attempt to make new ones. Many children also have strong ties to their family home or community, making moves like these emotionally challenging as well.

When Will a Judge Agree to a Move-Away Case?

After evaluating the unique scenario at hand, a judge typically will grant a parent the right to relocate when:

  • They have sole custody.
  • They share joint custody, and the other parent agreed to the move.
  • They have joint custody and can prove that the move is in the child’s interest, even if the other parent disputes it.

On the opposite side, a judge may deny a parent the right to move with their child if:

  • They are the noncustodial parent.
  • They share joint custody, and the other parent does not agree with the move.
  • The move is not in a child’s interest.


Q: Can You Move Out of the State With Your Child After a California Divorce?

A: Unless the custody order specifically says that the children should not be relocated to a different state, a custodial parent can request to move to another state with their child. The same general rules apply to both parents who are trying to move out of state and parents who are trying to move 50+ miles away. This is because both are classified as child relocation cases. For a parent to be able to move their child out of the state, a judge must give them permission and believe it’s in the child’s interests.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

A: Technically speaking, a child cannot choose where they live until they reach the age of 18 or are emancipated from the home. However, the court will consider a child’s preferences once they reach the age of 14 and can properly process the weight of their decisions. If a child has a preference for which parent they would like to be with, their parent can request for the court to hear it or have their legal counsel speak for them.

Q: How Do You Request to Relocate With Your Child?

A: If you are considering moving over 50+ miles with your child after a divorce, you must follow the state’s requirements for doing so. California requires parents who are attempting to relocate to notify the other parent at least 45 days before the intended move. The other parent then has the right to dispute that request, which may then cause the matter to be handled in court. If you believe that you are eligible to relocate, don’t be afraid to discuss your options with an accomplished family lawyer.

Q: How Do You Dispute a Move-Away Request in California?

A: For parents who oppose the move-away requests of their ex-partners, you may file an opposition with your local family court. After you receive notice of the potential move, you should find an attorney who can help you file your dispute claim and represent you in court. You will have to prove that the move is not in the child’s interest or that the other parent does not have the right to relocate.

Contact the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon

At the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon, our clients come first. Our staff is comprised of compassionate, knowledgeable members who are dedicated to representing the rights of Pasadena residents. If you are concerned about your ability to move with your child, or oppose a move requested by an ex-spouse, contact us today.