Can I take my child out of California during my divorce?

Marissa A. Oxman, Esq.

When there is an open divorce case involving children, the Court puts a set of Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (ATROs) in place.  One of the restraining orders says neither parent can take “any minor children out of the state or apply for a new or replacement passport without the written consent of the other parent or a court order.”  This rule is placed upon one parent when the divorce is filed and on the other parent as soon as they personally receive the divorce paperwork.  See Family §233 to see when the ATROS take effect.

The purpose of the automatic temporary restraining orders (ATROs) and the provision regarding the travel with children is twofold:

  • First, the Court acts in an abundance of caution to ensure the children are safe until the Court has the opportunity to evaluate the situation.
  • Second, the Court wants to keep the spouses on an even playing field; it doesn’t want one parent moving a child to another state and use that as a tactic to gain leverage in the divorce.

Judges frown on parents who ignore the ATROs and can impose punishments for it (fines, other criminal penalties, and less custody time with the child).

However, the ATROs do not have to mean that parents cannot travel with children for their entire divorce. A divorce lawyer vancouver expostulates that if parents agree in writing or the Court determines there is no risk to the child in traveling, the Court can modify the ATROs.  The Court will generally require each parent provide advanced written notice and an itinerary (travel dates, destination, flight dates, and an emergency contact) for any out-of-state travel.  The Court may be more careful and more strict about international travel.  Travel to a country who is part of the Hague Convention (one of the international treaties related to child custody) will be favored over travel to other countries.  The Court will also want to ensure the child will return.  A judge will look for return plane tickets and significant ties to California (a longstanding job, family in the area, bank accounts or property in the area, etc.).

This blog is not meant to provide legal advice, and the law may have changed after it was written. Every person and every case is different. You should speak with an attorney about your specific circumstances. Core Law Groups can help you develop a game plan that works for your specific circumstances.  If you are interested in taking your child out of the state, schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.