As hard as a contested divorce or custody battle may seem, a
custody relocation trial can be tougher. Assuming that you already have joint custody and that you are the primary custodial parent asking for the judge's permission to relocate far from your current residence can be very difficult. Preparation, documentation and solid evidence are critical. The lack of any of these items can spell denial.
The pendulum of allowing a custodial parent to move just because there are better opportunities, for remarriage or for a new life are long since gone. Judges realize that the rights of both parents are to be protected. Be prepared to compromise, to litigate and to pay substantial legal fees if you want to win.
The easy cases, if there are such things, are where the non-custodial parent is a dead beat who not only does not support the child but does not visit with regularity and who has not formed a bond with the child. Those cases are easy because if there is a lack of consistency and using the rights already granted when the non-custodial parent lives close, then the interruption to parenting caused by relocation is minimal.
However, where the non-custodial parent pays child support, utilizes all visitation, attends extra-curricular activities, goes to school conferences, awards events and celebrates birthdays and holidays together with other milestones, the burden of proof for the parent who wants to move becomes extemely high.
Preparation well in advance is critical. Start keeping a calendar log of visitation including frequency and duration as well as the quality of contact. Does the other parent interact in a positive way with the child by doing things with the child that are informative, educational, cultural, athletic, guiding and nurturing or do they just sit home watch TV and eat franks and beans?
Research and document with evidence why relocation is in the best interests of the child. Compare and contrast the current school district with the new district and compare the residential community of the current district to the new district. Hire an educational expert who can testify rather than you just say the new place will be better. Hire a realtor to explain the differences in the two communities, Explain to the judge why your search for better economic opportunites is not successful here, however a good job with future potential is already waiting for you if relocation is granted. Discuss the move with your child and learn not tell the child what to do. Does the child want to stay here or does the child have good strong reasons why a move is desired?
This blog post can only scratch the surface of what is needed or the combination of facts that are needed to win a custody relocation case. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you make the decision whether to embark on this path and can guide you through the process to avoid obvious mistakes. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you compromise to gain permission on consent rather than after a trial.
My next blog will be to help parents who want to oppose and prevent relocation from taking place.
I have litigated both sides of custody relocation requests and have the real time experience to help you. Please call my ofice before you start this battle and have the benefit of my 30 years of advice.