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The state-of-the-art in what is best for children of divorce. Every parent, judge and family law attorney must view this video to save their children from the ravages of divorce.
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California Supreme Court Rules Against Dad in New Move-Away Decision



Last week the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of a move-away mom in the Brown vs. Yana relocation case. In that case a father, Anthony Yana, was trying to prevent his then 12 year-old son from being moved from San Luis Obispo, California to Las Vegas, Nevada 400 miles away.

I've covered this issue in numerous  newspaper columns and radio and TV appearances. A short history of California move-away law is as follows:

From 1996 to 2004 move-away determinations were based on the Burgess decision, in which a custodial mother was allowed to move her two children 40 miles away from their father. Burgess was disastrous for children because it was interpreted by California courts to permit moves of hundreds or thousands of miles. In some cases, courts have even allowed children to be moved out of the country, as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Zaire.

In 2004 the California Supreme Court decided the LaMusga case in favor of the father, Gary LaMusga, who sought to prevent his ex-wife from moving his two young boys from California to Ohio. LaMusga, who is unable to follow his children because he operates a small business and is tied down by weighty child support obligations, had fought the move for eight years. In siding with the father the court explained that "the likely impact of the proposed move on the noncustodial parent's relationship with the children is a relevant factor in determining whether the move would cause detriment to the children."

Soon afterwards a handful of extreme feminists prevailed upon former California Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) to introduce SB 730, which would have abrogated LaMusga and given custodial parents almost unlimited move-away privileges. We organized to fight the bill, and generated thousands of calls and letters in opposition, as well as a lot of media attention. To everybody's surprise, Burton withdrew SB 730, and LaMusga was preserved.

Fortunately the new decision in Brown vs. Yana will not have the impact of Burgess or LaMusga--it is more technical and limited in scope, and the father's underwhelming legal effort and behavior hurt him. To learn more about the new ruling, see Court Rules Parents With Custody Can Move (Los Angeles Times, 2/2/06).

To learn more about California move-aways and the LaMusga case, see my co-authored column Is a Pool More Important than a Dad? (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/4/04) and read my LaMusga radio commentary here. To read a feminist view of the move-away issue, see Allred's column "Moving Matters in Custody" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, 10/3/02).

I discussed how this issue would be viewed if we switched the genders in my column California NOW Takes Stand Against Working Mothers (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 2/23/04), and argued in favor of a current Wisconsin move-away bill in my co-authored piece AB 400 Will Help Wisconsin's Children of Divorce (Wisconsin State Journal, 12/3/05). I clashed with feminist law professor Carol Bruch, who authored the mother's brief in LaMusga, on PBS's Los Angeles affiliate  KCET last year--to watch, click here.

Sacks, Allred Debate New California Supreme Court Move-Away Decision

I debated Gloria Allred, who won the Burgess case, on KABC radio here in Los Angeles Friday evening. On Friday during the day Gloria and I were paired against each other in a KABC TV news piece. Both times Gloria was....(sigh) Gloria. She's good at what she does but at this point I've debated her on these issues so many times that I usually can guess what she's going to say next.

For example, Gloria often says that restrictions on move-aways unfairly restrict custodial moms from moving, while not restricting noncustodial fathers. I answer that in these cases both parents are free to move wherever they want--it is the children who may not be moved if a court determines that it is against their best interests.

Gloria often says that restrictions on move-aways keep custodial parents "held hostage" in their neighborhoods, and that they should be able to "move on with their lives." [ my ex's words to me, courtesy her attorney]. I respond that both parents retain responsibilities to their children after divorce which are sometimes inconvenient or limiting, and ask "Would we argue that noncustodial parents' responsibility to pay child support holds them 'hostage?' Do we condone the behavior of divorced parents who decide to drop out of their children's lives or stop paying child support because they've decided to 'move on with their lives?'"

Father Denounces Move-Aways on KABC-TV

The best part of the radio or TV jousting was the appearance of Harvey LaForge, a reader of mine, on KABC-TV. LaForge's 14 year-old daughter was moved to
Hawaii against his will four years ago. He had joint legal and physical
custody of his daughter and a near equal timeshare but it didn't matter--mom's desire for her new squeeze 3,000 miles away was more important than this girl having a father.

Many fathers are hesitant to discuss their cases in the media because they fear retaliation by their ex-wives, who hold most of the cards in family court. When I called Harvey, he gathered some pictures of his daughter, jumped in his truck and drove 60 miles to meet KABC-TV at my house. Had Harvey's case been decided under Burgess instead of LaMusga, today his daughter would probably have both of her parents in her life.