When I began practicing family law in California, move-away cases, which is family law nomenclature for one parenting moving a distance far enough away that the current parenting schedule is no longer feasible and would need to change, were rare.
Most divorcing families stayed in the same area and co-parented close to each other. For nearly a decade, I had one move-away case and it was in the same state. Over the last five years, the number of move-away cases has exploded, this past year, I had four out of state move aways and one international case.
Currently I am preparing for a trial to prevent a child from leaving the state and I have several parents who want to seek orders to move out of state with their children. The legal landscape on this is changing as the causes for the move-away are environmental and cannot be ignored. The stated reasons include: high cost of living, political environment, increasing crime, and homelessness.
The once golden state is currently quite tarnished, not to mention the COVID policies that closed most of the state well after other states opened. We are only now seeing the long-term ramifications of the damage done by the closures. People are leaving the state and the Courts are having to deal with more parenting conflicts as a result.
Move away cases are the hardest for the court to resolve, especially when there are two good parents and no way for an equal parenting time to continued. So long as a parent has the constitutional right to live where they want, the Courts will be in the position to make hard decisions.
There are a set of factors, referred to as the LAMUSGA FACTORS, and they control what the court reviews in determining the outcome of the request:
1. The reason for the proposed move.
2. The child's interest in stability and continuity in custodial arrangement.
3. The Distance of the Move.
4. The Age of the Child.
5. The Child's Relationship with Both Parents.
6. The Relationship between the Parents (IE: how likely will the moving parent support a relationship with the parent left behind).
7. The Wishes of the child(ren).
8. The Extent to Which the Parents Currently are Sharing Custody.
If you are considering a move that will cause a change in the custody or need to defend against one, our firm has extensive experience in this area and can help you make the strongest case for your children.