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Divorce Attorney – “Move Away” Child Custody Modifications

Commonly referred to as a “move away request”, a motion to allow the change of residence of the minor children of a relationship to a new county or state is one of the most vigorously litigated issues in California family law. Unless there is an agreement between the parties to the contrary, if one parent wishes to change the residence of the children they must request a family court to allow the move. Removal of minor children absent an agreement or court order is considered child abduction and could subject the parent to criminal charges and loss of custody.

California law regarding move away cases highly favors allowing the move so long as it is the primary custodial parent seeking the move. The overarching consideration in these cases is always going to be the best interest of the children. However, due to constitutional considerations, the court must consider the fact that the custodial parent has the absolute right to move and the court cannot impede this right by disallowing the move with the children assuming that given the denial the parent will end up forgoing the move.

Given the current state of the law in move away cases, the real decision the court must make is this: Is it better for the children to move with the requesting parent resulting in a long distance relationship with the other parent or is it better for the court to change custody to the non-custodial parent creating a scenario where the children will have a long distance relationship with the moving parent.

The legal analysis in a move away case is as follows:

  1. It is presumed to be in the best interest of the children to move with the custodial parent so as to maintain stability in the current custodial arrangement.
  2. The non-custodial parent contesting the move has the burden to prove that allowing the children to move would be detrimental to the children.
  3. In evaluating whether or not the move would in fact be detrimental enough to warrant denial of the move away request the family court judge will weigh the following factors:
    • The distance of the move.
    • The age and wishes of the child.
    • The connections to the community including school, friends, family and extracurricular activities.
    • How the current custodial arrangement will be changed as a result of the move.
    • Whether or not there is significant animosity between the parents that may affect the fostering of a relationship with the out parent.
    • The purpose of the move if the court finds that the move is in bad faith and meant to take the child away from the other parent.
    • Any other facts relevant to the best interest analysis.

Whether you are requesting a move away or contesting a move away, you are in for the fight of your life. You absolutely need to understand the best approach to what you are dealing with as the court’s decision in this case could impact your relationship with your children. If you are considering a move or if you have been served a motion and wish to contest a move away you need a family lawyer that understand how to handle the case. The- attorneys at Griffith, Young & Lass have been successful on both sides of move away cases. Attorney Catie Young is our move away expert. Give her a call for a free case evaluation today at 858-345-1720.

Meet Your Dedicated San Diego Family Attorneys
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS

Family Attorney, John N. Griffith, CFLS

John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization.


Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.
Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

San Diego family lawyer Catie Young has a wide range of litigation experience. She has worked in civil litigation. She has successfully represented clients in many areas of family law including child support, child custody, divorce and domestic violence. She has a unique approach to each child custody case, so clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases.


Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.
Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Family Attorney, Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Amy Lass was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting and went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006. Amy takes a practical and cost considerate approach to the process while striving to balance the emotional needs and objectives of her clients.


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The Typical Divorce Process in California
Discovery of Assets & Obligations (1-3 months)
1 Complaint for Divorce Filed Start of litigation
2 Complaint is Served Varies, but usually shortly after the complaint is filed
3 Answer to Complaint Due 30 days from the date of service
4 Mediation Anytime, but usually after initial discovery
5 Temporary Hearing Usually early in the process
6 Late Case Evaluation / Judicial Hosted Settlement Conference Usually near the end of the case
7 Trial (If Needed) The goal is to settle, but if your case goes to trial, it could take months after the start of litigation.
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I am beyond grateful for the entire staff at Griffith, Young, and Lass. I don't even call myself a client anymore, they are my friends that protected my family and fought with me, side by side.-Erik H., San Diego