Category: joint custody

Can I Prevent the Other Party From Relocating?

Can I Prevent the Other Party From Relocating?

 

In our increasingly mobile society, it is a sad reality that at some point in a coparenting relationship, one parent may decide to relocate to another state and take the child.  There are a myriad of legitimate reasons for a move.  Perhaps, new job opportunities await.  The other parent may have additional family available to help them.  The person may simply want a new start (maybe in a warmer climate).  Many people want to know if there is anything they can do to prevent the possibility of such a move.

KENTUCKY RELOCATION RULES

Kentucky has implemented the Family Court Rules of Practice and Procedure.  Those rules specify that “[b]efore a joint custodian seeks to relocate, written notice shall be filed with the court and notice shall be served on the non-relocating joint custodian.”  Once that notice is filed, the other party can file a motion to modify custody or timesharing within twenty (20) days unless the parties agree.  Whether the court allows the relocation will be very fact dependent, but if a parent is seeking to relocate solely to frustrate the other parent’s time or relationship with the child, the court will likely not allow the child to move in a joint custody situation.  If, however, the relocating parent is a sole custodian, the chances of the court approving the relocation are greatly increased and the rules less stringent.

BACKUP PLAN

Another option to plan for a possible relocation is to have a backup plan; a “Plan B” timesharing schedule if you will.  In this situation if you know there is a chance that one parent may relocate in the near future, you can build that eventuality into the parenting plan.  In that way, if there is a relocation, no additional litigation expenses are incurred, the parties would simply begin following the “Plan B” schedule.  While it may not be a particularly pleasant thought to contemplate, it is better to address the possibility now rather than having to relitigate the case.

NO RELOCATION CLAUSE

A final option is to include a firm “no relocation” clause in a final parenting agreement.  You may or may not be successful in negotiating such a provision and it will probably depend heavily on the parties involved.  Keep in mind it is unlikely that a court would ever order such a provision in a final judgment so this could only be included in a negotiated settlement.  If you include a “no relocation” clause, it will need to be very narrowly crafted.  courts are very hesitant to enforce these clauses for fear of violating a person’s right to relocate for legitimate, good faith reasons.  The courts are at all times primarily concerned with the best interests of the children and could very well override the “no relocation” clause.

If relocation is a possibility in your case, discuss the issue with your divorce/custody attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are properly addressed.

Photo courtesy of Karen Apricot

What Custody Arrangment is Best for the Children?

What Custody Arrangment is Best for the Children?

Any caring parent who has considered divorce has thought long and hard about how the divorce would affect the children.  There is little doubt that the traditional “nuclear family” is usually the best option for children; “nuclear family” meaning both parents in the home with the child.  In fact, scientific studies have routinely backed that up.  This report from the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services backed up the idea that the nuclear family was best for children.  Among the highlights of the report:

Children in nuclear families were generally less likely than children in nonnuclear families
• to be in good, fair, or poor health [Note: these three categories are considered “less than optimal”];
• to have a basic action disability;
• to have learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder;
• to lack health insurance coverage;
• to have had two or more emergency room visits in the past 12 months;
• to have receipt of needed prescription medication delayed during the past 12 months due to lack of affordability;
• to have gone without needed dental care due to cost in the past 12 months;
• to be poorly behaved;
• and to have definite or severe emotional or behavioral difficulties during the past 6 months.

Unfortunately, the nuclear family is not an option for divorcing couples.  This study published in the “Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health” completed earlier  in 2015 confirmed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report’s findings on the nuclear family.  It then went a step further and compared parenting arrangements in which the children spent a significant amount of time with both parents as compared to parenting plans where a child spends most of his time with only one parent.

Researchers said that they had expected the children residing primarily with one parent to benefit from that stability.  Indeed, that is a common expectation and basis for rulings from many family court judges.  The researchers were surprised to see that the data did not support that hypothesis.  On the contrary, their findings confirmed that children who spent a significant amount of time with both parents were better off in the long run.  The study looked at a range of psychosomatic issues, including loss of sleep, headaches, loss of appetite, depression, stress, and many others.

What the researchers found was that parental stability was far more important that housing stability.  The children who had close relationships with both parents fared much better than children who lived primarily with only one parent.  By far the children of the nuclear families in the study still fared the best and reported the fewest psychosomatic issues.  However, of the separated parent households, those children in a joint custody situation with a liberal timesharing schedule with both parents fared the better than those living with only or primarily with one parent.

This study should not be taken to mean that an equal timesharing schedule is going to work for everyone or that a schedule providing housing stability for your child will not work best for you.  Every case and family is different.  However, it does provide food for thought.  Regardless, parents who can put aside their anger and resentment of one another and work together for the best interests of the children is always the best arrangement.

Photo courtesy of aleksandra.kostina