My Ex Is Moving Away With The Children, What Can I Do?

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You are divorced, or were never married, but have children with your ex. You share custody or, at the very least have visitation rights. But now your ex tells you s/he is moving someplace with the kids that would make seeing your children as regularly as you would like much more difficult.

More often than not, it is fathers who face this situation. Three out of four mothers with custody move within four years of separation or divorce. The reasons are widely varied, from employment, to being closer to family, to moving in or with a new lover. Whatever the reason, these cases are among the most bitter and contentious in family law, partly because the stakes are so high. As a result, if you are facing this possibility, you should immediately contact an experienced family law attorney in your area. Failing to do so could literally mean losing the right to be with your own children.

What can you do? There are several options, and which you should choose will focus largely on your relationship with your ex. The first option is to try to talk it out with your ex. If you and your ex are still on speaking terms, you should discuss how important it is for your children to have frequent contact with both parents, and how moving is going to disrupt this. If you are not on speaking terms, you may want to suggest a mediator or therapist to get the conversation going again. But, try not to force the issue (at least, not yet). Especially if your relationship has become contentious, doing so may cause your ex to resist or make the decision out of anger or obstinace rather than out of the best interests of the children. Listen to her reasons for wanting to move, offer alternatives, and try to remain flexible.

Point out the effect the move will have on the children, not just you and your ex. In many cases, this is actually a stronger argument if your kids are older. The older they are, the less likely they will be to want to leave their friends, their school, their familiar routine. Both your ex and a court may be less likely to move (or allow the move) if the children themselves will be directly and adversely harmed by it.

Generally, the courts have not been kind to non-custodial parents in move-away cases. Most states recognize a parent's right to relocate, and moving is seen as a fact of life in America. It is increasingly difficult to prevent your ex from moving if s/he is the primary custodial parent. An attorney can help you fight this move, or to get a court to impose an alternative that will allow you as much time with your children as possible, but you must be realistic in your expectations. It is no longer likely that you will find a court that will force your ex to put his or her life on hold simply to allow visitation.

Thus, a final resort is to think about following your ex-wife to wherever s/he goes. This is not an endorsement of stalking, but simply moving somewhere near your ex so that visitation or joint custody remains a viable option. Granted, this is wildly unrealistic for most, but it does have the advantage of keeping you in contact with the daily lives of your children and is something over which you have complete control.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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