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SACRAMENTO � While moving to a faraway town can be difficult for children, making them go through a court hearing beforehand might be even worse, the California Supreme Court indicated Wednesday. Justice Marvin Baxter led the way during oral arguments, saying he could imagine “nothing more traumatic” than requiring a child to sit on a witness stand and choose between two divorced parents fighting over custody when one wants to relocate to a distant locale. “I question whether the child should be put through that experience,” Baxter said. Justice Ming Chin agreed, calling it a “terrible idea.” Wednesday’s case raises a question � whether noncustodial parents are entitled to an evidentiary hearing without first making a threshold showing that a planned move by the custodial parent would be detrimental to the interests of their children. The issue arose two years ago when Nicole Brown sought to adjust the visitation schedule for her ex-husband, Anthony Yana, when she and her new husband decided to move from San Luis Obispo to Green Valley, Nev. � a move of about 400 miles. Yana requested an evidentiary hearing in the hopes of proving the move would be detrimental to their son Cameron, who was 12 at the time. The trial court judge denied Yana’s request, but in a 2-1 vote in December, Ventura’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed, saying in a five-page ruling that “the gravity of the trial court’s decision mandates that the parties have a full opportunity to present, and the trial court a full opportunity to consider, the relevant evidence.” Justice Kenneth Yegan dissented, arguing that since the mother had sole legal and physical custody, there was no need for an evidentiary hearing. “Appellate courts,” he wrote, “are not in the business of micromanaging move-away cases.” The Supreme Court appeared to agree with Yegan on Wednesday, unless there were extenuating circumstances. “Do you agree that the noncustodial parent must show a threshold of detriment in order to get an evidentiary hearing?” Justice Chin asked. Atascadero attorney Judy Wood, who represented the minor’s interests, said the noncustodial parent would have to show that the move is one of “significant distance” and would have a major impact on the child. “I believe,” she said, “there was a threshold showing” in this case. Justice Carlos Moreno noted that the pre-teen in question had raised concerns about leaving San Luis Obispo, and said he would prefer to stay with his father and his friends rather than adjust to a new life in a strange area. “What weight should the court give that affidavit?” Moreno asked Huntington Beach lawyer Jeffrey Doeringer, who represented the mother. “Is that enough to trigger an evidentiary hearing?” “No,” Doeringer responded. “Every child is going to have some anxiousness about moving to a new place.” Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, however, questioned why any father would ever stipulate to sole legal and physical custody to an ex-spouse if he had no right to an evidentiary hearing upon finding out that the child was going to be moved hundreds of miles away. Justice Chin joined in, asking why a father isn’t entitled to “some evidentiary hearing to prove detriment?” The father was represented by Arroyo Grande attorney John Hodges. Justice Candace Cooper, of Los Angeles’ Second District, sat pro tem, replacing Justice Janice Rogers Brown, who left earlier this year for the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Justice Joyce Kennard, who recently had leg surgery, was absent Wednesday, but will participate in the case by reviewing tapes of the arguments. A decision in In re Marriage of Brown and Yana, S131030, is expected within 90 days.

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