Tag Archives: child custody

Parental Relocation. Can I Move Out of State With My Child?

child custody

Parental relocation is and always will be a significant issue in child custody so long as we have a mobile society.

Imagine this.  The parents decide to “call it quits” on their marriage.  That’s easy for them to decide.  However, the next question is who will have custody of the minor children.  At the time of the divorce, most couples are not considering the possibility that one of them will want to move to another state in the future.  The hurt and disappointment that accompanies marital break-up overshadows such considerations (at least at that time).  child custody

However, sometime later circumstances change and one of the parents decides they want to move.  In Tennessee if you are going to move over 50 miles from the current location there are some pretty specific steps you must follow if you are planning on moving.  It is important to consult with an experienced child custody lawyer if this situation arises in your life.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals just considered this very case in Cassidy Aragon v. Reynaldo Aragon, Case #M2013-01962-COA-R3-CV.  Cassidy Aragon and her husband Reynaldo were married for a total of about 4 years.  During that time Cassidy gave birth to a baby girl who was approximately 3 years old at the time of the divorce.  When they worked out the child custody provisions in the divorce papers they provided that both parties would have an equal number of days each year as “co-parenting time.”

Although they were living in Clarksville, Tennessee at the time of the divorce, a decision was made that Cassidy would take a job overseas as a translator.  This way she could support the kids (she had one of her own separate from Reynaldo) and allow Reynaldo to finish college and get a nursing degree.

However, soon after Reynaldo  became a nurse he decided he wanted to relocate to Tuscon, Arizona.  “It’s easier to get a job there,” he said.  His mom also lived there.

Because Tennessee law required Reynaldo to give 60 days notice to Cassidy if he was going to move out of state, he gave the notice.  The battle began.   Cassidy asked the court to stop the relocation of their child to Tuscon.  Since due to Cassidy working overseas Reynaldo spent substantially more time with their daughter.

Interestingly, when the parent who spends “substantially more time” with the child decides to move, the burden of proof (the responsibility to persuade) shifts to the other parent.  Therefore, Cassidy had to prove at least one of three things:

(1) the relocation does not have a reasonable purpose; or,

(2) the relocation would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child that outweighs the threat of harm to the child of a change of custody; or

(3)  the parent’s motive for relocating the child is vindictive in that it is intended to defeat or deter visitation rights of the non-custodial parent or the parent spending less time with the child.

If the opposing parent proves one of the three things above, then and only then, does the court consider what is in the best interests of the child.  So proving one of those things is pretty important.  As a general principle when a court considers issues relating to child custody, the best interests of the child are most important.

In this case, Cassidy sought to prove that the relocation does not have a reasonable purpose.  She demonstrated to the court’s satisfaction that the relocation did not have a reasonable purpose.  She was able to do that because Reynaldo had not sought employment in the Clarksville area.  Apparently that was a huge factor with the judge.  Once he made that finding, he named her the custodial parent and gave Reynaldo only 80 days of co-parenting time (visitation) each year.  That’s a pretty big swing from over 50% of the time to down to 82 days.

Reynaldo’s child custody attorney appealed the case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.  There the court found that the trial court failed to make specific findings that it was in the best interests of the child to stay with her mother.    The Court of Appeals refused to set aside the finding that the relocation did not serve a reasonable purpose.  However, the court said that the trial court must make a specific  findings  that are required before the court could bar the relocation to Tuscon and directed the trial court to make those findings.

So here’s the take away:

1.  If your ex-spouse all of a sudden changes informal “co-parenting time” be aware that a possible relocation may be in the works.  She may be attempting to move into the situation where she spends substantially more time with the child than you do.  That would change the burden of persuasion if a relocation is sought.

2.  If you receive a notice of relocation, however informal, don’t sit on your rights.  It would be bad if a court later determined that the “notice” was proper and you no longer had a right to contest the relocation.

3.  Be attentive to what is said by your ex-spouse about the “why” of the relocation.  This is information that your Maryville Divorce Lawyer will need to know in order to help you.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Child Custody Mistakes can be Costly.

Child Custody Hearing on the Horizon | Help Your Divorce Lawyer

 

Child Custody Hearing on the Horizon | Help Your Divorce Lawyer

divorce lawyer maryville

 

Getting a divorce?  A child custody hearing is coming.

 

Of course, that presumes that you have children.

We all love our children.

Unfortunately due to the passions that are stirred in a divorce case often the child custody fight is used as a way to “get back” at the other party.

If you love your kids, DON’T DO THIS!divorce lawyer maryville

However, sometimes the battle over child custody is not about retaliation or revenge. It’s about who can give the best nurturing care for the children.

Help your Maryville Divorce Lawyer by being honest. Assume that the other side will present all of your “negatives” when you get to court. Don’t let your divorce lawyer get surprised at the hearing.

You’re going to hear that the court is guided by determining what’s in the “best interest of the child.”  When you hear that, if you are deeply devoted to your kids and not in the child custody fight for revenge or to exact a price on your spouse, you’ll feel comforted.  Not so fast.

What you believe is in the “best interest of the child” and what the court finds may be diametrically opposed.  One of the biggest keys is for you get your story heard in a compelling and convincing fashion.  This requires an experienced Maryville divorce lawyer.  Understand that it will also be necessary to discredit the other side.  These are just the facts of life.

Most mothers are nurturing and caring.  Are you?  How do you prove that?  Understand that the judge will only know what your divorce attorney presents in court.  If you are a mother, no doubt you’ve spent many hours cooking, cleaning, bathing, and generally caring for the kids.  You should think about how best to prove this to a judge.  Recognize that your opponent will be attempting to prove the opposite.

A child custody fight is no place for personal vendettas.  You should remember to focus on the core issue:  how can I prove to the judge that my idea of what is in the “best interest of the child” should be adopted by the court.

 Get an Experienced Divorce Lawyer at the Start

Many people believe that the truth will prevail.  Unfortunately, the “truth” presented in a compelling and convincing fashion will prevail.  That’s why you’ve got to hire an experienced divorce lawyer at the beginning of your case.  Why a divorce lawyer?  That’s where most of the child custody cases are fought.

Look for the attorney who is well known in the local courts.  It really matters how the attorneys interact with the judges.  You may want to find an attorney who knows the judge well and who appears in that judge’s court often.

Remember that your lawyer is called on to evaluate the facts impassionately.  This doesn’t mean your divorce lawyer doesn’t care. One of the great values of having a lawyer is that you can have an objective advice.  If you are involved (or expect to be) involved in a child custody battle there are a number of things to consider.

You probably want to begin by calling a number of lawyers and asking about an initial consultation.  Often attorneys will grant you the first consultation free.  This is really the only way the attorney can know if she can help and if you are a good fit for what she hopes to accomplish for you.  In the call to the office, be sure to ask about rates.  There’s no need for you to spend time with an attorney who you could not afford even with help from your family or friends.  Once you’ve made a number of calls, you should narrow your search down to three child custody attorneys.  Set up the initial consultation.

Be prepared with your information about your case and with your questions.  It would even be helpful to either write out (or type) the information and questions.  You will have a limited time during this initial consultation.  Use it wisely.

Once you’ve finished the three consultations usually you can trust your gut (yes, a technical term).   Ask yourself:

  •  Did I feel at ease telling my story, my experience, and my concerns?
  • Did the attorney appear to care about my needs and my desires?
  • If this is my only shot to keep custody of my kids do I want this attorney to be my advocate?

Once you’ve answered these questions, the selection of your Maryville Divorce Lawyer will most likely be obvious.

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