Often in divorce cases, one parent may be from another state, or, after separating from their former spouse, may want to move with their children to another state for relationship, family, or job purposes. In California, there are a litany of cases that have been handed down regarding this issue.
One of the more important move-away cases recently decided in California was IRMO LaMusga (2004) 32 Cal.4th 1072. In LaMusga, the California Supreme Court laid out a clear and logical set of criteria for parents and trial courts to consider in move-away cases.
- commissions children’s interest in stability and continuity in the custodial arrangement
- distance of the move
- age of the children
- children’s relationship with both parents
- relationship between the parents including ability to communicate
- wishes of the children if they are mature enough
- reasons for the proposed move, and
- extent to which the parents currently are sharing custody.
It’s been debated as to whether this is in fact is the right balance for California courts to reach regarding move-away cases. But one thing that stands clear is this: California Family Law courts have the broadest discretion when their main consideration in deciding the case is the child’s best interests.
This means that the decision regarding your family virtually rests entirely in the hands of the judicial officer involved. Additionally, and probably most important to remember, some judicial officers – and entire counties – have established perspectives as either being for or against move-aways. So if you are considering such a move with your children, make sure your family law attorney is aware of any such pattern within your community.