Child Custody - Move Away/Child Relocation

One of the most difficult issues in a dissolution or parentage case arises when one parent wants to move and relocate with the children out of the Bay Area a substantial distance from the other parent.

Very often one parent needs or wants to move away out of the Bay Area for a new job or to move back to where their family lives. However, the parent staying in the Bay Area may not agree that the children should move out of the area.

Difficult decisions need to be made regarding where the children will live and how to maintain the children's relationship with the non-moving parent.

Move away cases can create bitter and hostile disputes between the parents.

In your children's best interests, you need to take immediate action whether you are the parent who wants to move or the parent that is staying in the Bay Area.

There are very specific steps either parent should take to ensure that the parenting plan and custodial arrangements you believe are best for the children are put into place.

Child Custody and Relocation Trials

Often the parents can reach an agreement on the relocation. However, move away cases very often end up in a trial requiring extensive testimony and the use of experts to offer opinions on what custodial arrangement is in the best interest of the children.

If the move away issue needs to be decided by the court you must be prepared to convince the court that the custodial arrangement you believe is best is adopted by the judge.

The first step is to contact the Law Offices of Michael E. Finein.

Children's Best Interests:

Generally, the court will decide where the children will live primarily on the basis of the children's best interests. The court will consider many factors in making the decision.

  • The reasons for the proposed move.
  • Is the move away in good faith or an attempt to disrupt the children's relationship with the non-custodial parent?
  • Who has been the children's primary caretaker?
  • What is the current custody arrangement or order, joint or sole physical custody?
  • What is the current visitation/timeshare plan for the children?
  • Is this an initial determination of child custody in your case or has there already been a final determination of custody?
  • The extent to which the parents currently are sharing custody.
  • The children's interest in stability and continuity in the current custodial arrangement.
  • How bonded are the children to the each parent?
  • The children's ties to friends, family, school and the community in the Bay Area.
  • The children's relationship with both parents.
  • The distance of the move.
  • The age of the children.
  • The relationship between the parents including, but not limited to, their ability to communicate and cooperate effectively.
  • The parent's willingness to put the interests of the children above their individual interests.
  • The parent's past ability to foster a positive co-parenting relationship.
  • The wishes of the children if they are mature enough for their opinions to be considered.
  • How will the relocation impact the relationship with the non-custodial parent?
  • The state's policy is that it is in the children's best interests to have "frequent and continuous" with both parents. How can frequent and continuous contact be accomplished if one parent moves?
  • The financial impact of the relocation on the parents and costs of visitations if the children move.
  • Any history of drug or alcohol abuse by either parent.
  • Any history of domestic violence in the relationship.


You need to know how these factors impact your particular case and what you need to do to ensure your children's best interests are protected. Calling my office for a consultation is your first step.