Life does not remain static and, oftentimes, many of us have to relocate for any number of reasons, whether it be a job, a need to be closer to family, or some other opportunity that can provide a better life. The courts understand this, which is why it is possible for you to apply for a relocation/move away order with your children. However, considering that this would be a major change in your children’s lives, you should understand that this will only be granted by the court if it serves the children’s best interest. The court is always doing its best to determine what is in the best interest of your children, though you may not always agree on what this looks like.
If at all possible, I love to help parents come up with an agreement that works for their family without the help of the Judge. This can be a back and forth negotiation that takes persistence and patience. I have had great success helping clients negotiate very favorable move away orders. Would you rather decide what is best for your family or do you want the Judge to do it?
With that said, sometimes parents just cannot agree, even with my help. In that case, we do take their situation to court.
Arguing for Relocation
Whatever your reasons might be for moving, you have the option to file a Request for Order-modification of the existing custody order to accomplish this. Keep in mind that although the court believes you have the right to move wherever you want, it does not mean they will automatically agree to modify the order so that your children can move with you.
It is imperative that your Request for Order or response is done well and backed up with exceptional supporting declarations. My paralegal and I love assisting with these.
When your Request for Order is filed with the court, in San Diego, you will be given a date to meet with Family Court Services (FCS). This is mediation. If you have to go to court because you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, you will go to mediation first. I love to guide and prepare my clients for this important meeting with the mediator.
Of course, the other parent will also be able to take legal recourse to prevent you from moving away with the children and, ultimately, the decision will be up to a family court Judge, unless the two of you are able to hash out an agreement.
At your FCS mediation appointment, the mediator will help you reach an agreement. If you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, the mediator will make recommendations to the Judge on what they feel is best for your children. Either way, the mediator will write a report.
You and the Judge will get a copy of this report. Basically, someone who is meeting you for an hour or so, the mediator, is playing a vital role in this crucial decision-making process that will affect you and your children. The Judge often follows the mediator’s recommendations, which is why it is so crucial that we speak with you before your mediation appointment, so I can help you come up with a game plan.
Preparing for Your Relocation Hearing
After mediation, and before your court date, you will receive a copy of the mediation report, as will the other party and the Judge.
At the hearing, the Judge will determine if your children should be allowed to relocate. When preparing for this court hearing, you will need to focus on gathering evidence and information that will convince the judge that it is in the best interest for the children to move with you.
Some examples of things you might want to prove are:
- You are moving to create a more stable financial situation for the family: For example, if you or your new spouse finds a new job that requires your family to move, you will need to be able to provide evidence regarding your new salary and benefits to show how the new job will improve your family’s life. Oftentimes, some parents might even relocate in order to save on living expenses and daycare costs. If this applies to your situation, make sure you are able to show how much the move will save you and how it will contribute to the wellbeing of your children.
- You are moving to get married: While this is certainly a common reason for moving, you might not cite this as the only reason for your move, so make sure there are other factors involved to support your request to relocate. This can include a better home, extensive support, a family unit, a better financial situation, and other such positive changes.
- You are moving to where you will have a stronger support system: Living in a place with minimal support can be difficult, so if you are moving to where you have a larger support system and more family, this would be considered positive for your children. If this is your reason for moving, be prepared to talk about how much family you have at the new location and what kind of support they will be able to provide. If your children have close relationships with them, mention this as well.
- You are moving for a fresh start: If your divorce was particularly messy, sometimes a fresh start is the only way to move on. That said, while a fresh start can be a positive thing for your family, you will have to beware of framing your reason for moving as a need to get away from your ex-spouse. The court does not consider moving to put more distance between you and your ex-spouse beneficial for the children. Try framing your reasoning for a fresh start as a desire to be in a place where there are better jobs, more educational opportunities, or higher quality medical facilities for your children. Remember, your court hearing is all about demonstrating why moving is the best thing you can do for your children, so pile on the positives. And remember, YOU are free to move but that does not mean the judge will order that the children move with you.
I believe it is important for you to focus on you being a great parent and your relationship with your children and less emphasis on the other parent not being a good parent.
Prepare a Parenting Plan
All of the above factors are critical in successfully presenting your case to the court, but to really be effective, you will have to come up with a plan that will demonstrate your dedication to helping your children maintain a close relationship with their other parent. When creating this plan, consider some of the following:
- Summer and school vacation visits: To make up for the lack of time the other parent will spend with his or her children as a result of the move, you may want to include lengthier summer visits and school vacation visits. Be sure to also include how the children will see their other parent, how the cost of travel will be fairly divvied up and how the travel will take place-driving, flying, by who…
- Access to the children: If it is possible for your ex to travel to your new home, clearly state in the new plan that you will provide access to him or her during these trips and stipulate a reasonable number of visits.
- Stay connected: Since your ex-spouse will likely not make the trek to your new place too often, provide him or her enough access through technology, such as Skype, Facetime, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. The only way for your children to remain connected to their other parent is to keep the lines of communication open and accessible.
Child Custody Attorney in La Mesa
If you are attempting to relocate or move out of state with your children, you are going to need skilled legal assistance on your side from an experienced child custody attorney to ensure you are able to successfully obtain a move away order. At The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider, I have been working in this field since 1992 and understand the complex and sensitive nature of these cases.
Get started on your case today and contact The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider at (619) 304-8499 to schedule a consultation.