Whether or not a parent can move with the children is a difficult question. The law has changed over the past 15 years swinging from when the California Supreme Court in Marriage of Burgess made it easier for the custodial parent to move with the children to the most recent California Supreme Court case of Marriage of LaMusga, which is considered a more child-centered approach to the question.
The evolution of the law has squarely placed the analysis on the best interest of the children standard, rather than placing the burden on the non-moving parent. These cases are called “move-away” cases and are often gut-wrenching cases whereby one parent and the children face the loss of frequent and continuing contact with each other. The LaMusga case identified a list of criteria for the court to consider in making its decision:
- The children’s interest in stability and continuity in the current custodial arrangement;
- The distance of the move;
- The age of the children;
- The children’s relationship with both parents;
- The relationship between the parents including the ability to communicate;
- The wishes of the children if they are mature enough;
- The reasons for the proposed move; and
- The extent to which the parents currently are sharing custody.
LaMusga was decided by the California Supreme Court in 2004, so it is not new in the field of family law. However, as this firm continues work on a contested trial to prevent the custodial parent from moving with the children to another state, it is clear one very important factor in determining whether or not a move should be allowed is the relationship between the parents. Although no criteria set forth above holds more weight than another, if the parent seeking to move with the children does not support the relationship between the children and the other parent, the request to move may very well be denied.