It has happened. You just received news from your children’s other parent that they are moving out of town and planning to take the children with them. Questions are racing around your mind: How can you do this? Where will they go to school? And, most importantly, when will they get to see me?
Despite your best efforts to have the other parent see things from your point of view, their stubborn position remains: they are moving with the children. At this point, it is up to you to petition the Court for a change to the custodial schedule, or even to the custody award. Be prepared to show the Court every reason why the move is not a good idea for the kids, and back it up with evidence.
You can show the following points to the Court when opposing a move-away requested by the other parent:
The kids are used to seeing me often. Review the terms of your current schedule on a calendar and show the Judge how often you see your kids each week. The order may say, “alternate weekends and Wednesdays from 3:00 to 7:00,” but you must humanize this stiff rendition of your parenting time. “Every Wednesday I pick up the kids from school, and help them with their homework before we grab dinner. On our alternate weekends, I pick them up from school on Friday and we pick a family movie from Redbox and eat popcorn. Saturdays are soccer games so we spend most of the day at the field, and Sundays we choose a family activity, like bowling or hiking, to enjoy together.” Paint a picture of how you spend your significant time with the children.
I am a big part of the children’s lives. Show your participation in their school and extracurricular activities. List the back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences that you have attended. List the volunteer positions you have taken in their activities. Do all of the kids call you “Coach,” or are you the one organizing the bake sale?
The kids are better off in their current environment. Compare the ratings for their current school system to the school system in the potential move. What programs do they current enjoy that they will miss as a result of moving? What are the graduation rates and crime statistics compared between the two places?
The other parent will withhold pertinent information from me. Difficulties in communication with the other parent can be highlighted to demonstrate that the other parent will use this move to oust you from active parent participation. Have you had trouble getting information on necessary information regarding the kids in the past? Reiterate that your constant participation in every aspect of the children’s lives is keeping you close and involved, and the absence of that will create separation.
These will not guarantee that the other parent will not be allowed to move away with the children; it is up to the Court to decide. You can present your opposition in the most effective and concise way possible to ensure that your voice, as a parent, is heard.
Shauna M. Albright,
Founding and Managing Attorney of The Law Offices of Shauna M. Albright
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