Your head is spinning. This is all too much! Why does this have to be so hard? Why does sharing a child with someone mean that he or she can at times completely control your life? It is certainly a harsh reality to accept: two households, one child. And what if you didn’t even want to separate from the other parent at all? He or she wanted to leave the relationship, not you!
Sometimes people ask themselves, why am I even bothering with this move? This takes too much time, costs too much, and creates too much stress for myself and my child.
At times, relocation with a child seems like an impossible pursuit, but know that it does happen, and it can happen for you if you set up the right circumstances.
What you should know is that if you want to move with your children on a whim, for your own exclusive benefit, or for a temporary purpose, you aren’t likely to succeed if the other parent opposes the move.
Few judges are going to allow you to uproot your children because you’ve taken up surfing and you think Hawaii sounds like a cool place to live. You need legitimate reasons to move, and the move must benefit your children.
Take some time to get “real” with your situation. Ask yourself these five questions:
- What are the real reasons I want to move?
- How important is this move?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages to my children?
- Is this move temporary or permanent?
- How could I continue to foster a relationship between my children and the parent they will be leaving behind?
If you can’t honestly answer these questions and feel good about this move for your children, you may want to stop there and put the idea of moving aside for a while.
But if you decide that you have legitimate answers to all of these questions, then start preparing yourself for trial. Put in the effort to carefully choose an attorney and thoroughly develop your case with him or her.
It’s critical that you hire an attorney who has historical knowledge of how each judge in your district typically rules in relocation cases. Your attorney should also be experienced in actually trying these types of cases. That experience allows for effective and efficient preparation, which maximizes your chance of success.
Make no mistake: relocation cases can be complicated for everyone. A major move to another state, or even several hundred miles away within the same state, poses substantial challenges to the parent/child relationship. Living far away obviously reduces the physical time that one parent has with the children. Yes, Skype and FaceTime allow for more meaningful contact than phone calls, but video calls aren’t the same as living five minutes away. You must develop a plan with your attorney for how you can facilitate a true and meaningful relationship between your children and the other parent. You must be willing to do that with no questions asked, for the sake of your children.
If you’re the one moving, never forget that you’re leaving a parent behind. That is always a big deal. Your demeanor should reflect your sensitivity to this issue whenever you are in court.
Surely, some situations are easier than others. For example, your co-parent may only see his child once a month at best, often skipping his visitation time completely. This scenario is much different from a situation where both parents share custody equally, alternating weeks, until the father wants to move out of state with the children for a new job.
When parents cannot agree, decisions regarding children will always be left in the hands of a judge. Always remember this: court is a gamble, and your odds of winning are rarely better than 50/50. Attorneys cannot guarantee an outcome; they can only represent you to the best of their ability.
The goal of this book was to open up a dialogue about relocation and the types of child custody issues that you can expect if you or your co-parent try to relocate.
If you understand your options and recognize the difficulties you may face, you will be well positioned to realistically evaluate your situation and make reasonable decisions.
We hope this book helped you and your family. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.