At this point in your case, you may want to request a child custody evaluation.
Move away cases often require an independent evaluation of the proposed move and its impact on the children by an independent forensic psychologist and child custody evaluator. These evaluators make recommendations to the court as to whether or not the move away is or is not consistent with the children’s best interest.
See Child Custody Evaluations: Do’s and Don’ts for Parents to learn more.
Factoring in the Children's Preference
When the children are old enough to express an opinion and the children do not want to move, you have several options available to you. The children’s preference can be expressed to the court directly, to the child custody evaluator or through a lawyer appointed for the children. Which one of these methods is best depends on the maturity the children as well as their age.
Planning for opposing the move away includes but is not limited to the following:
- Gather information on the proposed relocation destination. This includes where the children will be living if the move away is granted, what school they will attend and all of surrounding circumstances related to the children’s lives. Much of this information will be publicly available (including on the Internet) as you should be able to check out the local schools in that area as well as statistics on crime, demographics and the general living conditions of the proposed location.
- Make a list of all potential witnesses who will be able to testify as to how and why the move will be detrimental to the children and not in the children’s best interest. This includes those individuals who are familiar with the children, including family, friends, and teachers.
- Make a list of documents that you will need to support your position that the children’s best interest will not be served by the move. If your case is one that involves parental alienation or a parent who has tried to harm the relationship between you and the children, evidence of that will be helpful in your opposition. This includes emails, text messages and any other documentary evidence you have to support your position.
- Write a factually accurate and persuasive summary of how you will be able to take over the role of the custodial parent if the move away request is denied. One thing noncustodial parents often do not realize is that if the court denies the move away request, the court generally must assume that the other parent will still move without the children. That is because the court is not evaluating whether the other parent should move but rather whether the children should move with the other parent. That means you, as the prevailing party, will need to show the court how and why you are able to take over the role of the custodial parent and how you will continue to foster the relationship with the other parent after he or she moves.
The advice of an experienced child custody attorney is paramount and you generally should not undertake to represent yourself in any move away case due to the complexity of the issues and the law.
1 | 2From the author: From Robert Farzad, A Family Law Attorney in Southern California