A recent California Supreme Court case reflects the importance of legal venue in a move away child custody case. Relocation or move-way child custody cases occur when a parent is sharing custody and parenting time with another parent. If a parent has “sole legal and physical custody” they are generally free to make decisions regarding a potential move.
However, if you are co-parenting and share child custody and parenting time responsibilities with a former spouse or the other parent of your child it is not legal to move away without the expressed written consent and authorization of the Court which issued the child custody and parenting orders in your divorce, paternity case or a subsequent legal action.
Legally speaking, “venue” applies to the Family Court which holds jurisdiction in your case.
The Family Court which issues child custody and parenting time orders almost always reserves jurisdiction over the case going forward. This means the legal venue in a move away child custody case is the same Family Court which issued the orders in your case.
If the co-parent agrees with the relocation the parties should work to reach an agreement which will modify existing orders and specify how the relationship between the chid(ren) and the remaining parent will be protected. California Family Law has established it is almost always in a child’s best interests to spend equal quality time with each of their parents.
If a parent takes a child or children and moves out of the San Diego area or out of the State of California without the Court’s permission they risk losing their own child custody and parenting time rights, as well as other legal consequences.
Some parents have attempted to relocate with children and then file for emergency venue once they arrive in their new home. This could risk a change in the legal venue in a move away child custody case leading to an expensive and drawn out Court case.
If you wish to relocate with your child(ren) you will need to prove to the Family Court the move is not only in your child’s best interests as well as the necessity of the move. The Court will be interested in the support of family and friends in the potential new home, and how the move will benefit the child(ren) and their health, education, social life and the economic resources available to help the child(ren) to thrive.
It is always in a co-parent’s interest to preserve the legal venue in a move away child custody case in order to prevent an expensive and time consuming legal case across state or international boundaries.