“Move-Aways” as they’re often referred to can have a devastating impact on the parent-child relationship and putting clauses in place to preclude a sudden departure with the children by the high-conflict ex-partner is a wise decision.
Absent a clause in your custody order/agreement, the only way to prevent your child(ren) from being moved away from you is by filing a petition with the court. Even if you do have a rock-solid clause, don’t believe that you’re going to avoid litigation and a judge making some other ruling that is based on the always moving target known as “the best interests of the child.”
Regardless of what your state’s guidelines may be regarding allowable distances or the specifics of your custody order, the court is often given the leeway to make the ultimate decision based on a minimum of the following general factors:
- Potential advantages of proposed move, economic or otherwise.
- Likelihood that move would substantially improve quality of life for custodial parent and children and is not result of whim on part of custodial parent.
- Integrity of motives of both custodial and noncustodial parent in either seeking to prevent it.
- Availability of realistic substitute visitation arrangement which will adequately foster ongoing relationship between child and noncustodial parent.
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where the prevailing anti-father bias which clearly exists in family court puts them at a decided disadvantage.
- There still is a belief that children “should not be” separated from their mothers, no matter the age. Fathers don’t get such regard despite all of the scholarly studies which show the devastating effects on children who grow up without their fathers.
- If a father has re-married and there is an overall economic advantage for the family and children and no ulterior motives – see the first bullet point.
- If a father hasn’t remarried and the same thing applies – see the first bullet point.
- If a mother has re-married and there is an overall economic advantage for the family and children and no ulterior motives – see the first bullet point and expect that the move-away request will be granted.
- If the mother hasn’t remarried and the same thing applies – see the first bullet point and expect that the move-away request may be granted, but not as likely as if there is a new spouse in her life who brings in substantially more wealth to that household.
Yes, the financial impact of a new step-parent, especially a step-father can result in your children being moved away from the father.
In any case, no matter the gender, it is vitally important that you at least attempt to make a move-away difficult. No matter the conflict level of your partner, we do truly believe that children need both parents absent issues of parental fitness. Move-aways can have a negative effect on the parent-child relationship, which in our opinion should absolutely and unequivocally trump any financial benefit to anyone – including the children.