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Factors Considered In California Move-Away Cases

Move-away cases in California present unique challenges for parents and courts alike, as they involve a proposed relocation of a child by one parent. When making decisions in these cases, courts take into account various factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Understanding these factors is crucial for parents navigating the legal process.

Move-away cases are governed by specific legal standards and statutes in California. We will provide an overview of the legal framework, including the “best interest of the child” standard and the requirement for a “change of circumstances” to justify the proposed relocation.

“A parent entitled to the custody of a child has a right to change the residence of the child, subject to the power of the court to restrain a removal that would prejudice the rights or welfare of the child.

CA Fam Code § 7501 (2020)

Factors Considered In California Move-Away Cases

Courts carefully evaluate several factors to determine the child’s best interest when faced with a move-away case. These factors include:

1. Parental Motives In Move-Away Cases: Courts assess the reasons behind the proposed relocation, considering factors such as career opportunities, educational advantages, family support, or a desire for a fresh start.

2. Impact On The Child’s Relationship With The Non-Moving Parent: The potential effect of the move on the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent is a significant consideration. Courts examine the distance, visitation arrangements, and the ability of both parents to maintain ongoing involvement in the child’s life.

3. Education Opportunities & Stability: The impact on the child’s educational opportunities, including access to quality schools, stability in their academic progress, and extracurricular activities, is evaluated by the courts.

4. Presence Of Extended Family & Support Networks: The proximity of extended family members and support networks can influence the child’s emotional well-being and overall development. Courts consider the strength and availability of these connections in both the current and proposed locations.

5. Maintenance Of The Child’s Current Lifestyle And Quality Of Life: The ability to maintain the child’s existing standard of living, including housing, community resources, and social environment, is taken into account.

6. Proximity To Healthcare Facilities And Specialized Services: Access to healthcare facilities, medical specialists, therapists, or other specialized services required for the child’s well-being and development is carefully evaluated.

7. Consideration Of The Child’s Preferences: Depending on their age and maturity, the child’s preferences may be considered. While not determinative, courts may give weight to the child’s wishes, taking into account their best interest.

8. Evaluation of the Non-Moving Parent’s Ability to Facilitate a Continued Relationship: The court assesses the non-moving parent’s willingness and ability to foster a continued relationship with the child despite the distance, ensuring the child’s ongoing connection with both parents.

child relocation statistics

Legal Arguments & Strategies

In move-away cases, presenting compelling legal arguments and employing effective strategies can significantly impact the outcome. Here are key considerations and approaches to help parents navigate this complex process:

1. Supporting The Child’s Best Interest: Emphasize how the proposed move serves the child’s best interest. Present evidence showcasing the positive aspects of the new location, such as better educational opportunities, a safer environment, or closer proximity to extended family support.

2. Maintaining The Non-Moving Parent’s Relationship: Highlight the non-moving parent’s commitment and ability to maintain a strong and meaningful relationship with the child despite the distance. Demonstrate a feasible and practical plan for visitation, including proposed schedules, communication methods, and the willingness to facilitate continued involvement in the child’s life.

3. Showcasing Stability & Consistency: Demonstrate that the proposed move will provide the child with stability and consistency in their daily life. Highlight factors such as secure housing, access to essential services, familiar surroundings, and a supportive community network that will contribute to their overall well-being.

4. Addressing Potential Challenges: Anticipate and address any potential challenges or concerns raised by the non-moving parent or the court. Offer viable solutions and alternative arrangements that mitigate these concerns, showing a willingness to adapt and make necessary accommodations to ensure the child’s welfare.

5. Presenting A Co-Parenting Plan: Develop a comprehensive co-parenting plan that outlines how both parents will collaborate and share responsibilities despite the geographical distance. This plan should include details on decision-making processes, communication protocols, visitation schedules, and methods to foster a sense of connection between the child and the non-moving parent.

6. Engaging Expert Testimony: Consider seeking expert opinions to bolster your case. Expert testimony from professionals such as psychologists, child development specialists, or educational consultants can provide valuable insights and strengthen arguments regarding the child’s best interest.

7. Demonstrating Good Faith and Cooperation: Maintain a cooperative and respectful attitude throughout the legal proceedings. Show a genuine willingness to work with the other parent, the court, and any appointed professionals involved. Acting in good faith can positively influence the court’s perception of your dedication to the child’s well-being.

8. Seeking Legal Representation: Engaging an experienced family law attorney who specializes in move-away cases is essential. They can provide knowledgeable guidance, help craft persuasive legal arguments, navigate complex procedures, and advocate for your rights and the best interest of your child.


Move-away cases require a thorough understanding of the factors that courts consider when evaluating proposed relocations. By familiarizing themselves with these factors, parents can better prepare their cases and work towards outcomes that prioritize the best interests of their children. Seeking legal advice and approaching the process proactively are essential steps in navigating move-away cases in California.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. We understand the financial burden a divorce can have on an individual. As such we have created our industry-first SimpleStart™ program, providing people a chance to reduce the amount of money needed upfront to start their case. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.



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By: MFL Team

Posted May 16, 2023

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