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Review of California's relocation rules

One of the most hotly contested issues in family law is when a parent decides to move with his or her child to another state or even to another city in California that could easily be hundreds of miles away.

The reason that this is a hotly contested issue is that the other parent, the one who does not have custody most of the time, will likely not appreciate the fact that he or she will not be able to see his or her kids as often as the parent would like. In some cases, a parent may also object to the move just because he or she has hard feelings toward the other parent.

One might say that California courts prefer to deal with moves on a case-by-case basis rather than in a blanket fashion. As such, the first place a parent should look if he or she wants to know how to deal with, or stop, a relocation is the court's custody order. The order might include language that requires the parent intending to move appropriate notice to the other parent. It may also require the parent moving to get the consent of the other parent or, at least, try to offer the other parent some accommodations.

In the absence of a court order, the general rule is that if a parent has sole physical custody, then he or she may move without getting the permission of the other parent. To reiterate, though, this does not necessarily mean the parent can just move without warning. If the parents share physical custody, even if their parenting time is not equal, then the parents must agree to the move.

While these are some general principles about relocation, such questions are actually complicated legal matters and are generally best discussed with an attorney experienced in the area of family law.

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