I am trying to relocate with the child cause of job opportunities. Since we were ordered a custody evaluation by the judge, I had to turn down a couple of job offers. Once the custody evaluation in done, we ll have a hearing again. Do I have to secure another job offer for the hearing or I can just say I will be moving to another state once the job is secured or will I be able to move right away, if the move is granted.
The rules that guide the courts in these situations can be tricky, even for the courts. It is important to understand the rules the court will follow in making a determination.
First, the court does not grant or deny a move-away. Usually, such a petition is really a request to modify the existing custody order because one parent plans to move away, and likely wishes to take the child along. The question for the court—absent bad faith on your part— is not whether you are permitted to move, but what arrangement for custody should be made when you move. The court must presume that you will move, and has no power to restrain you absent criminal conduct.
If both parents currently have joint custody the court will have to determine what custody and visitation arrangements are in best interest of the child when one parent is on the West coast and the other on the East. If you have sole physical and legal custody, which does not appear to be the case, then the noncustodial spouse will need to first show that the proposed move is detrimental to the child, before asking what is in the child’s best interest.
The court will look at many factors in making its determination of what is in the child's best interest. Having a job offer on the table will not hurt, and may very well help.
You are not required to secure another job, but it will certainly strengthen your arguments in favor of the move. Understand, however, that the judge's decision will rest on what is in the best interest of the child including the goal of frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
I highly recommend securing the job opportunity; however, that is no assurance that the Court will grant your request for a move-away. It is unspecified why a custody evaluator was appointed; should it have been as a result of your motion for a move-away, be sure that Judge is informed of all matters that will affect the child (i.e., family ties, friends, father's visitation, his new community, etc.). I highly recommend that you consult with a family law attorney to assist you during this process.
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David Lavi, Attorney
Beverly Hills Los Angeles Long Beach Van Nuys