It’s perfectly understandable to relocate to another city or state after getting divorced. But just because Elizabeth Taylor did it all the time doesn’t mean anyone can. Leaving the place where you and your ex used to live is especially difficult when kids are involved.
That’s not to say that relocating while sharing child custody is illegal. But whether you're the custodial parent moving away with your child or the non-custodial parent denying your ex-spouse’s request to move away with your child, the process is unlikely to be smooth sailing. Here are three things you need to consider to get favorable results.
A compelling reason to move
Requests to relocate to another city to shack up with a new lover or for other reasons that do not serve a child’s best interests aren’t likely to get court approval. But if you’re moving away for a higher paying job, for example, you’d have a better luck; a higher paying job typically implies you’d be better able to financially support your child.
Unfortunately, relocation may not be a choice but a necessity. And this may result in unwanted complications.
Take the case of Kelly Rutherford and her ex-husband, German businessman Daniel Giersch. When they filed for divorce in 2008, Kelly sought joint custody. However, Daniel wanted to be the sole guardian of their kids, Hermes and Helena.
Luckily for Kelly, the court denied Daniel’s request and ordered shared custody. Unfortunately for her, his US visa problems and the prolonged battle worked against her.
Long story short (and it IS a long story), Daniel was barred from re-entering the US while the case was ongoing. When he took the kids to Monaco, he wasn’t in violation of any laws. This left Kelly in a difficult position of having to go back and forth from America to Europe, which drained her funds and prevented her from committing to long-term acting projects.
In other words, Daniel didn’t move away to Monaco with their children because it was in their best interest. He did it because he can, and the circumstances simply worked in his favor.
Consideration of the co-parent’s needs
As the relocating parent, you need to consider the following factors so you can present a convincing argument to the court:
- the distance of the move
- the reasons for the move
- the child’s welfare
- the nature of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent
- the co-parents’ custody agreement
These factors affect the ability to effectively co-parent and will heavily figure in the court’s decision. Take Scarlett Johansson and her ex-spouse, for instance.
When ScarJo filed for divorce from her French ex-husband Romain Dauriac, she wanted joint custody of their child, Rose Dorothy. But Romain countered, claiming her work schedule requires too much travel, which would prevent her from staying at home, baking cookies, and reading bedtime stories to little Dorothy.
Romain didn’t think his ex deserved primary physical custody, even though she has multiple houses across the world where she can perform mom duties whenever she has to shoot another Avengers sequel in an exotic location. So he insisted that Dorothy should be raised in France.
Ultimately, both settled on equal shared custody, which proved to be a smart decision as it allowed them greater control over deciding where the child lives and for how long. The alternative would have required them to comply with the court’s decision, that either (or both) of them may not favor. Moreover, the case may have taken many months or even years to settle.
Experienced family law attorneys
A Washington court will consider specific factors when approving or denying a request to move away, and you’ll need an experienced attorney to make sure your ex-spouse won’t make you go through hoops. And if your ex happens to be a vindictive, moneyed businessman, all the more so.
If you’re a Seattle-based parent facing a custody battle, call Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams.