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How Do Orange County Courts Handle Child Relocation Requests After Divorce?

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Child Relocation Requests: Navigating Postdivorce Relocations With Children

A divorce or the end of a serious relationship is a major life change, and it’s not unusual for it to cause people to think about whether the other areas of their lives are supporting their goals and dreams for the future. Many people choose to move after a divorce to be closer to their families, to relocate to a more affordable area, or to take a new job. But when child custody and parenting time schedules are involved, relocating isn’t as simple as finding a new place to live and packing your boxes. The Orange County Courts require parents to submit child relocation requests in some situations.

Are Child Relocation Requests Required?

The courts generally require that parents submit a child relocation request if they are planning to move far enough away that it could impact where the child goes to school or how parenting time is handled. The parenting plan often has specific language that dictates how far away parents can move without needing a relocation approval. This may be within the school district or county or a specific number of miles. If you are moving farther away, the relocation request must be approved by the courts before you move. Parents must also notify the courts and the other parent any time they are moving, even if it’s a short distance.

What Happens If the Other Parent Objects?

One of the reasons that the courts require a relocation request to be filed before you can move is to ensure that the other parent has time to object and request a formal hearing. If this happens, both parents will have the opportunity to present their case before a judge. The relocating parent will need to provide evidence as to why the relocation is in the best interests of the child, and the objecting parent will provide evidence as to why they believe it will be detrimental to the child or create an undue hardship on the parent. The judge will decide whether the parent is allowed to relocate with the child and what changes will need to be made to the custody arrangement and parenting time schedule.

Showing That a Relocation Is in the Best Interests of the Child

Family court judges are most concerned with the best interests of the child, which means that your argument for relocation needs to be focused on this aspect. If you’re relocating for a better-paying job, you could show that your income and standard of living will increase.

This might mean that the child is able to participate in more extracurricular activities or go to a private school. If you’re relocating to be closer to family, this can benefit the child by establishing and deepening family ties and providing a better support system.

It’s important to understand that you will need to provide evidence to support your statements. It’s not enough to just tell the judge that the move will be better for your child. Examples of evidence might be data on crime rate statistics for your current location and the new city or academic reports and graduation rates for the school systems. Similarly, a parent objecting to the relocation will need to provide evidence that a move is not in the best interests of the child, such as that it moves the child away from friends and family.

Preparing for Chanjoint custodyges to Parenting Time and Child Support

If your relocation request is approved, you’ll have a lot to handle with the physical move, finding a new place to live, and possibly getting settled into a new job. But you’ll also likely be dealing with changes to the parenting time schedule and potentially child support.

Relocations across state lines or where the parents will be more than one hour apart by car often require special parenting time schedules where the custodial parent has the child most of the time, and the noncustodial parent gets extended parenting time over holidays and during summer break.

Significant changes to physical custody can also impact child support. If the initial child support order was based on each parent having roughly 50 percent of the time with the child and the move results in one parent having 80 percent of the parenting time and the other having 20 percent, this is likely to require a change in the child support order as well. Your attorney can help you understand how child support and parenting time are likely to change after the relocation so you can ensure you have factored both of these aspects in.

What Can You Do If the Other Parent Has Moved Without Permission?

If the other parent has already relocated without getting permission from the courts, you can file a motion to hold the other parent in contempt for violation of the custody order. In extreme situations, it’s possible for the parent who moved without permission to be charged with parental kidnapping, especially if they are not providing the child for the other parent’s parenting time. The first step in these situations is to discuss your options with an attorney.

Whether you need to move for a career change or want to be closer to your family and support system after a divorce, a relocation may be best for you and your children. If you need help with a child relocation request — or want to object to one filed by your ex — a family law attorney can help. Contact The Bledsoe Firm at 949-363-5551 to schedule an appointment and talk about your options.

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