Summers and Moving Along . . . with the Children
I don’t want to scare anyone, but, traditionally, July is when the calls start coming in…usually something along the lines of – “I’m moving back”…or “I just heard my spouse is moving back”…to Omaha, Kentucky, Istanbul, or wherever… “and they’re taking my kid, (as opposed to “our” kid, which is always the correct answer).
I’ve lived through this experience, and as an attorney I’ve fought those types of cases. I know it’s not a fun position to be in. Sometimes the reason for the move is legitimate, sometimes it’s unclear, and sometimes the move is just the good old stick-it-in-the-eye treatment to the opposite parent.
This sets up some tough conversations with potential clients, on both sides of this case.
Why July? In my purely anecdotally-based opinion, it’s the time many people seriously begin to consider taking action on school enrollment issues. If they’re going to enroll the kid in a new district, the time to move is now. June is the end of the school year and families first take a few weeks to enjoy the start of summer. July, however is right in the middle of the summer vacation, and the time to take action is running out.
If you are the one moving with the kid, you probably didn’t want to tip the other side off about your plans, so you waited. If you are the one staying, you probably didn’t know or possibly ignored the signs that the move was happening, and now realize that you can’t wait any longer to take action.
I’m uncomfortable getting the child relocation calls in July. But, they are much worse when I get them in August.
In contested relocation cases, there’s usually a clear winner or loser. Either the kid gets to go, or the kid has to stay. That’s a big gamble…for both sides. Additionally, the winner is usually not all too impressed with the generic custody order that he/she has won (at great time and expense, I might add).
There is good news. Even these types of cases can be resolved collaboratively. Working together with the parties, we can typically come to an agreement that maximizes visitation/contact with both parents, despite the move. We carefully review the interests of the parties, the child’s school and break schedules, the transportation options, the financial calculations, the needs of the child, and develop a plan that works best for all concerned. A bonus is that when the parties are able to communicate with each other to resolve a challenge this daunting, they are also able to communicate and resolve all types of minor custody details. I won’t say collaborative law always works, but I will say it usually does, and it’s always your best first option.