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Child Custody Move-Away Issues

When a custodial parent in a child custody proceeding requests a move-away order from the court allowing him/her to move a significant distance that would interfere with the noncustodial parent's visitation and his/her contact with the children, this is commonly referred to as a move-away case. A move-away case is one of the most difficult cases for the family courts to hear, because the request by the custodial parent to move away with his/her children often has a negative impact on the frequent and continuous contact the children will have with the noncustodial parent. Some jurisdictions are permissive in how they rule on move-away cases, and other jurisdictions are more restrictive.

States in which the statutory language and case law pertaining to move-away cases is more permissive may result in more permissive rulings. In such states, there may be a strong presumption that the parent that has primary physical custody of the children has the right to move away with the children, while the burden to prevent the move-away (by showing that the move-away is in bad faith or would be detrimental to the welfare of the children) rests squarely on the noncustodial parent. Further, states that are more permissive in move-away cases may not require the custodial parent to show that the move is expedient to the child's welfare, or even necessary. In other words, if the move-away is good for the custodial parent, then the move-away is presumed to automatically be good for the children. The resulting high burden placed on the noncustodial parent to prevent the move-away has made such cases the perfect battleground for some custodial parents to alienate the noncustodial parent from his/her children.

In other jurisdictions, the statutory language and case law pertaining to move-away cases may be more restrictive, placing a higher burden on the custodial parent seeking to move. That parent may have to demonstrate that the move-away is in good faith, necessary, expedient to the welfare of the children, and/or in the best interest of the children. In such states, rulings regarding move-away cases may result in more restrictive move-away decisions.

Overall, move-away cases often have an all or nothing feel to them, especially for the noncustodial or left-behind parent. A move-away case can forever change a child's relationship with the left-behind parent. A move-away case is not about whether the parent can move away; it concerns whether the parent can move away with his/her children. If you are seeking a move-away order or trying to prevent a move-away order, you would be wise to consult an attorney to find out if your jurisdiction is permissive or restrictive in ruling on these cases.


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Either parent may be ordered to pay an amount necessary for the support, maintenance and education of the child. Child support is calculated using the California child support guidelines. An amount different from that which is produced using the guidelines may be ordered based on specific deviation factors and also at the discretion of the court.
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