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When a parent with full custody of a child wants to move, the California Supreme Court says the noncustodial parent may try for a new custody arrangement � but doesn’t necessarily get to put his kid on the witness stand to make his case. On Thursday, the high court’s decision ended Anthony Yana’s hopes of changing a custody arrangement based on his ex-wife’s move from San Luis Obispo County to Nevada with their son. But the published opinion may still come in handy for other noncustodial parents who find themselves in similar circumstances. The unanimous court found that, while a parent without legal or physical custody is not automatically entitled to an evidentiary hearing in a move-away case, he may still be able to get one � if he makes an initial showing that the relocation would be detrimental to the child. “An evidentiary hearing serves no legitimate purpose or function where the noncustodial parent is unable to make a prima facie showing of detriment in the first instance, or has failed to identify a material but contested factual issue,” wrote Justice Marvin Baxter. The trial court was within its discretion when it turned down Yana’s request to modify custody without giving him an evidentiary hearing on the matter, the high court concluded. The justices noted that there was no hint the mother was moving in order to limit Yana’s contact with his son. And they remarked that other evidence Yana was offering, such as information about the transient nature of Las Vegas’ population and its crime and school drop-out rates, was too abstract to prove any harm to his son. But the court rejected one of the mother’s broader arguments, that relocation would not, under any circumstances, give a judge reason to change her custody arrangements or grant an evidentiary hearing. “The custodial parent’s right to relocate with a child remains subject to the changed circumstance rule,” Baxter wrote. Along the same lines, the court also said the Second District Court of Appeal misinterpreted In re Marriage of Campos when it sided 2-1 with Yana. Campos does not give the noncustodial parent opposing a move an absolute right to an evidentiary hearing to establish detriment, Baxter wrote. “Reasonably viewed, Campos simply recognized the duty of the trial court to consider all relevant issues in a move-away case.” Huntington Beach solo Jeffrey Doeringer, who argued for the mother before the Supreme Court, predicts that the opinion’s statements on Campos will lead trial courts to take a “sharper look” at a noncustodial parent’s allegations in move-away cases. “The entitlement espoused in Campos has been restricted,” he said. The lawyer who argued for Yana, John Hodges of Arroyo Grande, was apparently out of the country Thursday and could not be reached for comment. Thursday’s opinion included Second District Justice Candace Cooper, who sat pro tem during the November oral argument. The case is In re Marriage of Brown and Yana, 06 C.D.O.S. 1036.

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