Attending an Evidentiary Hearing for a San Diego Move-Away Case
This is the next post in my series on The Process of Relocating a Child Outside of California. My last post explained the filing of an initial request to relocate your child. In this post, I will be discussing what occurs during a move-away trial and what parents need to know in order to prepare themselves.
Evidentiary hearings provide both California parents an opportunity to present the facts of their case
An evidentiary hearing is scheduled when a dispute occurs in Family Court, and a Judge requires additional information. Otherwise known as a bench trial, this is an opportunity for both sides to present evidence to the Judge that supports their argument as to why a relocation is either for or against the child in question’s best interest. Unlike criminal trials, evidentiary hearings are only heard by a Judge- not a jury- and often do not take more than a day to complete. Following the trial, the Judge will make his or her ruling; this usually takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the facts and complexities of the case.
The moving party (which is the party requesting the relocation) will present their case first at the evidentiary hearing. Your family law attorney will present to the Judge with evidence supporting why a relocation would be in your child’s best interest. This may include government recognized statistics regarding the area and school system you are moving to. It may also include opportunities your child may be offered that are not currently available such as extracurriculars or specialized programs and education opportunities. A Judge will also be interested in information regarding a child’s social circles and positive or negative effects that moving a child out of their current environment may have. The Court may wish to know the child’s preference regarding the move, depending on the child’s age. Other factors that will impact a Judge’s decision include the parent’s work schedule and availability to spend quality time with the child. Once the moving side has presented their argument, the Opposing Party will present their own argument. The moving party will then have a chance for a rebuttal, after which the hearing will wrap-up. The Judge will then make a decision in a timely manner.
A California Family Court Judge’s decision regarding a move-away case is final after the trial
The evidentiary hearing is the final step in the move-away process. Once a Judge has made their decision, the custody order will not be altered unless a change in circumstances occurs later down the road. This means that a parent cannot file a Motion for a new trial simply because they are unhappy with the results. If the Court makes a legal mistake during the Trial it may be possible to appeal the decision, though that can be a lengthy process. It is also possible to file a new motion to change custody later if a significant change to circumstances occurs. For instance, if a parent’s new job falls through, or a child is not able to access certain services that were expected. However, once the trial is complete and the Judge makes his ruling, it is expected that both parents respect and honor the Court’s decision.
The stakes of an evidentiary hearing are high and will determine whether or not your child lives in the same area as you. It is important that your attorney is experienced in conducting bench trials and is skilled at presenting the evidence. If you need to begin a move-away case in a California Court, do not wait. Contact San Diego, California child move-away lawyer Thomas Huguenor today.