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CAN I MOVE THE CHILDREN OUT OF STATE? Ensure that You Have the Legal Right to Move Your Children Out of State Before You Finalize Your Plan to Relocate

Terence Daniel Doyle, Esq.


If you are considering moving your children out of state, however, it is important that you ensure you have the legal right to do so before you finalize your plan to relocate. When you are co-parenting your children and no longer living together as a couple, many complex situations can arise. One of the most difficult situations is if you want to move away and take your children with you. Doing so would, of course, result in your child being taken away from the other parent. This makes it more difficult for the child to continue to regularly see both parents and for an ongoing relationship to be fostered between the child and the other parent. While this outcome may not be a desirable one, there may still be situations where it just makes sense for you and your family to live in a different location. If you are considering moving your children out-of-state, it is important to ensure you have the legal right to do so before finalizing your plan to relocate.

MOVING WITH YOUR CHILDREN PRIOR TO DIVORCE If you and your spouse are separated or if you and a significant other have a child but are not married, then there may be problems with taking your child to a different state, depending upon the current custody situation. If a legal divorce has not been filed and a custody arrangement in not in place, you are typically free to move with your child to wherever you choose. If the other parent does not wish for you to move, he or she would need to file a petition with the court to stop you, and/or would need to initiate a custody or a divorce action.

Can I Move the Children Out of State? ď‚— Doyle Golde & Grossman Family Law Group ď‚— 925-314-2320

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If divorce has already been filed, you typically cannot just leave with your children without the permission of your spouse unless or until a custody arrangement is in place giving you permission to do so.

MOVING WITH YOUR CHILDREN AFTER DIVORCE OR WHEN A CUSTODY AGREEMENT EXISTS If you were never married to the other parent of your child or if you have divorced from your spouse, then you likely have a custody agreement in place. The terms of this custody agreement determine whether or not you are permitted to move with your child out of the state. If you have sole custody of your children as determined in the custody agreement and your spouse is not allowed visitation, then you can move with your children to a different location. However, if custody is shared and/or your spouse is entitled to visit regularly with the children, you may not be allowed to move away.. You will have two options if you have a shared custody agreement and you wish to leave: obtain the other parent’s permission to take the children with you or go to court and/or obtain a “move-away” order from the court before you relocate with the kids. The best situation is for the other parent to give permission so to avoid a potentially contentious and costly legal battle. The reasons why you wish to leave the state and the benefits that your action will provide to your child should be carefully explained.

Can I Move the Children Out of State?  Doyle Golde & Grossman Family Law Group  925-314-2320

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Often, if you can provide a better life for your child in a different location and you can assure the other parent that you will help to facilitate regular visits, the other parent may agree to allow the move. The custody arrangement can then be changed to reflect your new living situation and visitation arrangements.

PETITIONING THE COURT TO MOVE If the other parent will not agree to allow you to move to a different state, your only option to be allowed to move with your child is to secure a move away order from the court. You will need to petition the court to allow you to move with your child and demonstrate to the court why it is in your child’s best interests to move to a different state with you. There are numerous ways children can continue to maintain contact with his or her other parent even after moving to a new location. Phone and Internet visitations are two of the tools frequently used when a child moves to a different state than his or her parents. Children can also visit on holidays and during summer vacations. Be prepared to show the court that you are willing to be flexible and willing to work hard to allow your child to continue his relationship with his other parent after relocating. This can help to convince the court that a move would be in a child’s best interests since the child can obtain the benefits of the new location without losing his or her relationship with both parents.

Can I Move the Children Out of State?  Doyle Golde & Grossman Family Law Group  925-314-2320

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It can sometimes be challenging to convince a court that a move to a different state is best for a child of divorce. You should speak with an experienced and qualified family law attorney who can help you to make a compelling case so you will have the best possible chance of securing permission to go to your new destination and to take your children with you.

About the Author

Terence Daniel Doyle, Esq. is the founder of the Family Law Group, Danville CA. Terence Daniel Doyle brings a powerful background and a strong skill set to the firm. He is one of only 1100 attorneys in the state of California to hold the unique standing of Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) from the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. In addition to family law, his areas of practice include civil litigation, as well as estate planning and taxation. Mr. Doyle established the firm in 1984, and maintains a strong vision for the law group and its clients. Terence Doyle’s greatest strength is his ability to apply his knowledge of case law to his client’s particular situation, and then devising a strategy which produces the best possible outcome. Mr. Doyle is a member of the State Bar in the states of California, Arizona and Hawaii. He holds his law degree from Golden Gate University, with a B.A. in Mathematics from St. Mary’s College of California. He is a Danville California native where he resides with his family.

Can I Move the Children Out of State?  Doyle Golde & Grossman Family Law Group  925-314-2320

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Can I Move the Children Out of State?