Can You Stop An Ex-Spouse With Primary Custody From Moving Away With Your Child?

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Can You Stop An Ex-Spouse With Primary Custody From Moving Away With Your Child?

6 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog

You share legal custody of your child with your ex-spouse, but your ex-spouse has primary physical custody of the child. Now, your ex has suddenly announced that he or she has decided to move and wants to take your child along. There's nothing specific in the custody agreement that says that the move can't happen. Is there anything you can do to stop it?

Make sure that you respond to any notification promptly.

Your state's law may require your ex-spouse to give you notice within a specific time period before the move. Don't wait for a written notice, even if one is required. Contact your attorney promptly so that you can be prepared to respond within the statutory time limits -- that way you don't lose the legal window in which you have to take action.

Be prepared to argue that the move is in "bad faith."

If you believe that the move is being done in "bad faith" and is more about separating you from your child than any other reason, be prepared to make that argument in court. Judges will typically allow you to present a wide array of evidence that could indicate that the move is done out of retaliation or hostility:

  • messages left on your voicemail threatening not to let you see your child for some "infraction" (real or imagined) of the visitation or support agreement

  • letters, email, or texts of a similar nature that show your ex's recent hostility toward you

  • a history of physical abuse or threats by your ex toward you or other members of your family (such social media rants against your parents or your new boyfriend or girlfriend)

  • a history of interfering with your visitation schedule, withholding information about important events (like school plays), and other attempts to sabotage your relationship with your child

Demonstrate that the move doesn't benefit your child.

You can predict that your ex is going to argue that the move is somehow actually going to benefit your child. Your ex may ask the court to allow him or her to move in order to get a better job, a better education, or to take advantage of social support from family members in the new location. Your job is to show that those things aren't actually going to benefit your child or are just cover stories for the move.

The court will consider a multitude of factors, including whether or not your ex-spouse has a history of floating from job to job, actually has a job offer, or has already been accepted as a student in an educational program. If your ex claims to be moving back to a hometown to take advantage of the support system offered by relatives, you can try to demonstrate that they won't be able to provide much additional stability and support due to advanced age, illness, or their own financial problems.

Show that you can serve as primary custodian of your child.

If you have the capacity to serve as primary custodian of your child, you increase the odds that the court will transfer physical custody of your child to you, preventing your child's relocation. That allows your ex to move if he or she wants but leaves your child in your primary care instead.

Your chances for this outcome increase if you have been an involved and consistent force in your child's life, make it clear to the court that you are willing to negotiate a liberal visitation for your ex-spouse, and can demonstrate that you have the economic and social means to provide a loving, caring environment for your child.

Custody disputes involving relocation can be very difficult and get emotionally involved, especially if the underlying reason for the relocation request by your ex is one of spite or revenge. Talk to an attorney, or go to websites, as soon as there is a sign of trouble to come, so that you can prepare your case accordingly. 

About Me
Debating Whether to Hire a Divorce Lawyer? Let Me Help!

Hi All! My name is Jasmine Johnson. I am a 38-year-old systems analyst with two children. I enjoy writing and I enjoy helping others, which ultimately is what lead me to create this blog. I am not an attorney, nor am I affiliated with a law firm. I am a woman who found herself in the midst of a divorce a few years ago. I was receive advice from any and everyone I knew. However, I was torn on whether to hire an attorney or whether to file divorce myself. I created this website to give people who are in the same situation as me the ability to learn more about divorce attorneys, so they can make an informed decision on what is best for them and their situation. I hope you find my website helpful.