Divorce certainly complicates parenting. Even a reasonable custody arrangement won’t necessarily last forever. One common factor that often necessitates reconsidering a parenting plan is a potential move. What if one co-parent gets a new, better job in another state? Moving, in this case, could arguably benefit the child as that parent would be able to provide more easily for the child’s needs. Yet how will this affect the co-parent’s visitation rights?

Can a co-parent just move? Or do you they need permission?

According to California law, the parent with permanent sole physical custody can usually move without too much difficulty as long as the other parent can’t prove that relocating would harm the child. However, in cases of joint physical custody, the parent who wishes to move must obtain the permission of their co-parent or demonstrate for the court why the move is the best thing for the child.

If a move is taking place, the co-parent without primary physical custody (aka the one with visitation rights) may request an adjustment in the parenting plan to replace the potential loss of time, possibly with digital visits.

Other considerations

As with all custody matters, the most important thing to consider is the child’s wellbeing. Will a move disrupt their routine too much? What are the pros and cons of staying versus going? Will the child grieve the time they will miss with the other parent?

It is also right to consider the emotional impact on your co-parent. You may be living an independent life now, but sharing a child means always sharing a portion of your life. Any action you take at this point will deeply impact their life.

Relocation can be relatively straightforward or extremely tricky. It varies depending on the relationship between co-parents. If relocation is handled respectfully and legally, a move may indeed prove to be the best thing for your child. However, things are rarely as simple as you think they should be. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the nuances of family law and get you the best outcome possible, given the specifics of your situation.