California courts look at a number of factors when faced with child custody questions related to one parent’s decision to move. As the state’s First District Court of Appeals recently explained, one of those factors is the kids’ ties to their existing, local community. That includes their participation in extracurricular activities.
Mother and Father had two children before they divorced in 2012. A court initially ordered them to share custody of the kids. Father went back to court three years later, however, claiming that Mother was refusing to take the kids to little league and other after-school activities. Mother moved from Fairfield to San Francisco while that request was pending. She separately asked the court for permission to have the children throughout the week. She accused Father of abusing the children and said his animosity toward her had gotten in the way of the kids’ best interests.
Following a hearing on the matters, the trial court granted Father full custody of the children and offered Mother weekend visitation twice a month. The trial judge said Mother moved to San Francisco with the children without adequately discussing the situation with Father. It noted that the 50-mile commute to and from their school in Fairfield was detrimental to the kids and said Father was more supportive of their involvement in the local community, including through extracurricular activities.
Affirming the decision on appeal, the First District said the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion by awarding Father sole physical custody of the kids. That’s because there was substantial evidence to support the trial judge’s decision that Father was more likely to support the kids’ relationship with Mother and that he was more supportive of their interests generally. “[Father] testified he would foster the children’s relationship with [Mother] if the children lived with him during the school year,” the Court observed. “He also testified the children wanted to participate in extracurricular activities, and that he would do everything in his power to enroll them and transport them to those activities.”
The First District also said the kids’ ties to Fairfield were an important piece of the puzzle. “Here, the children’s ties to their community — where they had lived their entire lives, near their extended family and support network — was an appropriate factor in the court’s determination of the children’s best interests,” the Court explained.
If you’re considering a divorce or are grappling with child custody and other issues in California, contact San Jose divorce attorney John S. Yohanan. With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Yohanan is an accomplished family law attorney who has helped a number of clients resolve a wide variety of marital disputes. Call our office at (408) 297-0700 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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