Building a Case Against Child Removal in Massachusetts
Whether you are recently divorced or have been divorced for many years, child relocation cases can greatly impact your life, as well as your child’s. Legally, child relocation will also impact a pre-existing or new custody agreement that you and your former spouse have in place. As this is a very emotional, heart-wrenching process, this article will inform you of how you can build a case against child removal in Massachusetts.
Imagine the following scenario. Your former spouse, Jamie, has decided to relocate out-of-state and take your child along. There could be many reasons for the move: a new job, closer proximity to family, or a new relationship in a new state. As a range of emotions cross your mind, you feel strongly that Jamie’s decision would negatively impact the relationship you have with your child.
Is the relationship with the child considered in removal cases?
If your child’s move would make joint legal and physical custody more difficult for you, this relocation could be detrimental. Jamie wants to move your child to California; maintaining legal and physical custody would become almost impossible. If you are deeply involved in all aspects of your child’s life, spend quality time with her or him, and work closely with your former spouse to co-parent, removal could be detrimental to both you and your child. Parenting time, particularly for minor children, is critical in child development.
In the eyes of the court, it is essential that both parents play a part in a child’s life if they are capable and stable. A close relationship with your child could be enough for a judge to determine that it would not be in your child’s best interest to relocate. A parent becomes incapable of being a healthy role model for his or her child if there is drug abuse, domestic violence, or sexual abuse. The child would be in an unfit environment by interacting with this parent and the court would allow the child to move away from them.
What do you do when you are a noncustodial parent?
As the noncustodial parent, you do not have sole physical custody of your child. Start off by talking with the other parent and determine his or her motive for moving. Chances are you won’t be able to convince the other parent to stay, but maybe a compromise can be reached before going to court. You and Jamie can only agree that Jamie will go to California with the child, but Jamie refuses to talk about school vacations and holidays. You will likely want to file a complaint with the court regarding the relocation of your child.
Within your complaint, it is necessary to explain to the court why you are opposing this removal. There are likely many reasons you would not want to have your child move away. Legally, you may have a court order in place which gives you joint legal and physical custody, so removal would affect that. On a more personal level, you probably do not want to miss your child if they move across the country. While this is a strong, emotional reason, the court will need a bit more from you to better understand your opposition.
What if your child’s other parent can’t provide for your child as well as you can?
Additionally, in building a case restricting child relocation, you may want to mention your child’s current lifestyle. Jamie says that the house Jamie bought is significantly smaller and the child won’t have his or her own room. If Jamie cannot prove the child will have the same standard of living, the court may order that the child stay in state and award you the custody. A bedroom alone may not be enough. If your child is currently enrolled in a school in the Commonwealth, involved in many extra-curriculars, and has many friends, you can present this information to a judge. If a judge sees that your child is thriving socially and academically in the child’s current environment, the judge may not be so keen on relocation.
As these cases are very difficult, judges around the Commonwealth will handle them with care, and it may take a bit longer than you would have hoped. Uprooting a child from her or his current environment can be very traumatic and detrimental. Our family law attorneys can assist you through this difficult process. If you are dealing with a child relocation case and need an attorney’s assistance, schedule a free consult with our office to learn about how we can help you. To schedule a consult, call us at (866) 995-6663.