What Happens to Child Custody When a Parent Moves?

moving awayOne of the most contentious points in any child custody and visitation dispute is what happens when a parent moves.  Generally, move away cases end up going to trial more than other family law disputes as there is very little room to compromise: either the parent moves with the child or not.  The aftermath of a move away, though, presents its own unique difficulties.  Generally, whatever court a divorce starts in is one of “continuing jurisdiction” this means if your divorce starts in San Francisco County then the default rule is that it will stay in San Francisco, even after a move away.

However, California Family Code 3422 allows that jurisdiction may be changed to a different state if a parent moves and and evidence of the best interests of the child is no longer located in the state.  At first blush this would seem to say that jurisdiction is proper wherever the custodial parent moves.  However, case law such as Grahm v. Superior Court (132 Cal. App. 4th 1193) has found that visitation by the  non-custodial parent can qualify as sufficient contact to keep jurisdiction with original court.  This means that attempting to move jurisdiction after a move away can be just as contentious as the move away itself.

The San Francisco based bay area attorneys of Jones & Devoy offer practical legal solutions to help you avoid one legal battle after another whenever possible, and, when litigation cannot be avoided, we will provide you with a down to earth assessment of the process and strategies to make sure your rights are protected.