Travel and Relocation
Travel Plans After Separation
Now we’re going to move on and talk about how we approach travel restrictions with regard to child custody. You may not think that travel restrictions are important in your case, and you may not think that neither you nor the other parent really does a ton of travel and nobody really intends on taking the children anywhere, but it’s probably something that you at least want to address in your agreement or your court order to some degree.
Things that you want to think about with regard to travel restrictions with the children are first, “Where can the child go?” Maybe the other parent has family in another country. Are you okay with that parent taking the child out of the country? You want to address those things in your agreement.
When can this travel take place? So what if the other parent wants to take the child on a trip, and it’s going to coincide with the school year, and the child is going to have to miss a significant amount of time from school? You want to make sure you address those things.
Where can the child travel? When can the child travel? And who can the child travel with? Do you want the child to be traveling with your spouse and your spouse’s mother? Do you want your child to be traveling with the other parent, and the other parent’s girlfriend? So you may want to place some restrictions on who can go on these trips.
Sleeping arrangements is something that a lot of people will want to address. I know some parents feel very strongly about co-sleeping, and they don’t want their children to be co-sleeping. You maybe want to address, “There has to be a crib” or there has to be a separate bed for the child when you’re traveling. Who’s going to provide the necessities for travel? Whether that’s prescription medication, like an EpiPen or an inhaler. Who’s going to provide those things? Who’s going to provide the iPad that the child was going to want to use on the long plane flight? Who’s going to provide that sort of thing? That’s something you can address.
Another thing that you probably want to address is communication. If your child is traveling outside of state, or outside of country with the other parent, how often are you going to be able to talk to that child? Are you going to be able to FaceTime them? Are you going to be able to call them? Are you going to call them once for the week? Is it going to be every night? These are all things that you can negotiate.
You want to spend some time thinking about how you want to approach this in your custody situation, because you don’t ever want to be in that situation where you just learn after the fact that your spouse has taken your child somewhere. And you didn’t know where they were, or you wouldn’t have agreed to it if you had known.
Moving and What You Need to Know
Another topic that’s important with regard to child custody is the idea of a parent relocating. A lot of times when parents split up, that can be the catalyst for one parent wanting to relocate. Maybe they’re just tired of kind of seeing all these familiar places that they shared with you, places you would eat, places you would go to. They don’t want to drive around town, those memories are haunting them. They’re ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe that parent just decides, “Hey, I finally have the opportunity to take that job opportunity that I never took before while we were together.” There are several reasons why a parent maybe wants to relocate, but it can have an impact on child custody.
First, if you do have an agreement or a court order in place on child custody, you want to actually look at that document before you make any decisions with regard to you moving or relocating. There may be some parameters in place that addresses a relocation.
Perhaps your agreement or your order states that if either parents wants to relocate, they have to give a certain amount of notice, and then they’ll attend mediation or something along those lines. Look to your document to see what it says about either parent relocating.
Then you want to also be open with the other parent. It’s never good to hide the ball, or spring this on the other parent at the last minute. You want to be open with the other parent about this and start trying to work on an amicable solution to this relocation issue. Worst case scenario is that you’ll end up in court and then the Judge is going to have to make the decision.
Now if you do end up in court and you do want to move – and you are asking for primary custody, then you need to keep in mind what’s going to be important for you to tell the Judge, is why this move will be good for the child.
You don’t want to explain to the Judge, “This move is going to be good for me, and I want to take the child with me.” You’re going to want to couch that argument in terms of, “This move is going to be better for my child. It’s going to give me the opportunity to take a job where I’ll be making substantially more pay, and I’ll be able to provide more for my child. I need to move because this is going to allow me to be closer to the rest of my child’s family. He’s going to have a great relationship with his cousins and his grandparents, and his aunts and uncles.” Couch it in terms of what’s best for the child, not what’s best for you.