a court will nearly always approve an agreement by the parents. It's only when one of them contests something that the court needs to make the final decision. If you're stuck with a crappy ex who fights you about everything, you do end up at the mercy of the courts.
Can father legally prevent mother from moving to another state? - Page 2
I've read about one mom who went to visit her parents in another state for a couple week vacation (she says Dad was aware of the vacation and that it was a vacation, not moving) and Dad filed with the Court while she was gone. Despite being the primary parent until that point, she lost primary custody of the children to Dad because Dad (and the Court) accused her of attempting to flee with the children to keep them away from Dad.
If a mother thinks there exists any possibility that her child's father will file for parenting time or primary custody if she moves out of state, it is hugely risky to move without prior permission from a judge. She wagers her child's future by such an action, even if he doesn't have any Court-ordered parenting time prior to the move.
Being lazy doesn't (at least to the Court) make someone a bad parent. Wanting a partner to remain a partner by intentionally getting her pregnant doesn't weigh in to the Court's opinion of a parent either, as far as ordering parenting time is concerned. The Court will care a lot that she's been interfering with Dad's relationship with the child (and not to her benefit). The Court's obligation is not to consider Mom's best interest, it's to consider the child's best interest. Telling the Court that she will be a terrible parent if she has to share parenting time with Dad only gives him more ammunition that he should be the primary parent! Telling the Court that she is trying to alienate the child from her father is the nail in the coffin--most states custody laws specifically address ability and willingness to facilitate a relationship with the child's other parent in consideration of a child's best interests, and inability or unwillingness to facilitate the relationship can be grounds to change custody to the alienated parent, sometimes even without any other factors.
The mother has her reasons for trying to alienate the child from the father, which is only a year old.
I am not pointing fingers at anyone. This is a mutual screw up from the beginning. The mother should have been more careful, but the father had flat out told her "I got you pregnant so that you stay with me" among other unimportant things which makes him a not so nice fellow. As you can imagine, just that one sentence alone is enough to give the mother a foul taste in her mouth about the father. Should she alienate the child from him just because of his past intentions? No, but during the year of the child's life, he has barely been involved, which is due to a combination of him being too lazy and her trying to avoid him.
I agree, things have to be done right. Regardless of what has transpired in the past, things have to be done right moving forward.
I find it pretty disturbing at the amount of power a judge has to prevent her from being happy with her child should she choose to move. I have heard counselors say the happiness of the parent is extremely important to the happiness of the child. Children can sense when you are unhappy and when things are wrong.
It seems the best case scenario if nothing is done with the attorney is get a written statement from the father stating its okay to move. Worst case scenario they go to court to form an agreement, you play Russian roulette, and lose when the judge tells you that you can not move. So much for a free country LOL.
That line really disturbs me. Unless she was raped by him if she had consensual unprotected sex they were both equal participants in getting her pregnant. I don't think people are aware of the laws that are in place regarding moving to another state with young children. It is not easy when the parents are estranged. One of my friends played 30,000$ in court and lawyers fees because her ex fought her in her move across country and she loses him all summer long. I was told repeatedly during my divorce I could not move out of state without permission or I would be charged with interstate kidnapping, I live 20 mins from the state line. I wanted to have the option to move 30 mins into the bordering state so I could move closer to family. I was told by my lawyer until the children are 18 they are wards of the state and I must get permission to move out of state. My ex has said and will fight me on that 30 minute move and I do not have the money to fight him. My new bf just about lost it when I told him this news because he lives in the neighboring state. I point blank said it is what it is and I know the longer we live here the harder it will be to get the okay to move without a good reason like a job, not a boyfriend....
If her ex raped her, messed with her birth control, or lied about being infertile- this is an incredibly different situation and my heart goes out to your friend. Sadly, it's incredibly hard to prove at this point and is unlikely to have a real effect on custody, though. But I agree with the PP that if she knowingly had unprotected sex, she's just as guilty of the pregnancy. It sounds more like he agreed to unprotected sex knowing that there was a high likelihood of pregnancy and thinking it would keep her with him, which isn't a good thing, but it's not the same as forcing her to become pregnant despite her attempts to prevent it.
The family law is messed up- but, frankly, this situation is why. It's not really clear whether this man will be a good father or a negligent one, it sounds like he's never gotten the chance to show what sort of father he'd be, so the courts aren't able to look at his parenting record (although they tend to be ridiculously lenient) and will argue he deserves a chance. Your friend is attempting to alienate their child from her ex, but it's possible that she's protecting her child from a parent who would be negligent and put the baby at risk. The courts aren't omnipotent, and err towards assuming that parents are a good influence on kids until proven otherwise (unfortunately they're way too lenient, though).
Unfortunately, it would be better if your friend had tried to let her ex be involved with the child and he showed that he can't be trusted with the baby, even though this means putting a newborn at risk. Sadly the only way to prove to the courts that a person shouldn't be trusted around children is to put them at risk and let them be hurt, and she would have had to figure out who to report it to and then had to prove what happened and he may still have gotten another chance. But, it's possible that this man actually will be a good father- it's not unheard of for people to get their act together when a baby's in the picture, and his health concerns aren't a good enough argument. There are people with disabilities that rather severely limit mobility who are able to take good care of their babies and children, so his mobility problems aren't a strong enough argument and his laziness isn't stopping him from wanting to be involved with his baby.
Everyone makes mistakes and this is an incredibly complicated situation. I'm sure your friend just wanted to get out of the relationship and put it behind her and get away from a man she doesn't like and regrets being with- which is perfectly understandable and usually the natural response to a break up. Having a baby in the picture makes it even more complicated, I'm sure that her protective instincts are wanting to keep her baby away from this man, but this was a poor move legally. I understand why she took her actions, but unfortunately she's put herself in a very difficult situation because of them. Your friend should have been looking up family law before the baby was born, rather than waiting until now. Again, I understand why she didn't, there are so many other things to worry about while you're pregnant.
As it stands now, even if your friend gives up on moving, because her ex has gotten a lawyer involved, she'll likely be facing a custody battle that will be very difficult for her. These can be awful. Hopefully she'll be able to get everything to work out, and even if she'd done everything perfectly she could still be facing difficulty because the court systems are messed up. If she hasn't already, she should be trying to find a lawyer.
No time to read all the other responses, but it sounds like the original poster is unclear about her (or her friend's) most basic rights and responsibilities, so I'll be very specific:
An adult US citizen who is not in criminal trouble (like on probation) has a federal right (i.e., this is true regardless what state you live in) to move anywhere he/she wants - whenever he/she wants - at least within the US.
But you don't necessarily have the right to take everything with you. For example, if you receive some type of welfare payment, or subsidized healthcare though your original state, those benefits don't automatically continue if you move (as opposed to just traveling) out of state. Nor do you automatically qualify for the same things, in your new state. There's often a waiting period, to establish permanent residency in the new state (i.e., make a good faith showing that you'll remain there), before you can even apply for new benefits.
Some might see that as an unfair restriction on their right to move (because if they lose benefits, they might not be able to afford to move where they want). But legally, this doesn't restrict your right to move. It's just a factor a person must consider, before packing up and leaving - just like you have to think about how you'll afford transportation to your new state and where you'll live and what you'll do for money, once you get there.
Child custody is similar. Most family courts believe that, in divorce, it's best to keep a child's circumstances as stable and consistent as possible.
Some states' courts tend to think this means keeping a child in the same place - same daycare, same school system, near the same relatives. So, Mom has a right to move whenever and wherever she wants. But if she wants to take her child, she has to make a really convincing argument as to why the child should ALSO move away from everything he/she is used to, instead of remaining in the original state, with Dad.
Other states' courts tend to think:
#1 - If Mom's the primary caregiver, the best way to maintain stability for the child is for him/her to go wherever Mom goes. Then Dad has the burden of proving why keeping the child in the original state is important enough to change which parent the child lives with.
#2 - Losing custody of one's child is much worse than losing healthcare benefits. It would make many mothers feel forced not to move, even though they have a legal right to do so. Thus, making a mother fight to keep custody of her kids, if she moves out of state, would violate her federal rights.
WHICHEVER type of state you live in, if you are still legally married to the child's father - or if you're divorced and there are custody/visitation orders in place - you may NOT move your child out of state without legally notifying the father and the court, and getting the court's permission to take your child with you. States generally have specific laws or rules about how - and how far in advance of the move - this notice must be given. To simply leave could be considered parental kidnapping / "interference with child custody", which can be serious enough for you to lose custody. It's also a crime. (In comparison, a commonplace violation of family court orders - like not letting Dad have his usual weekend visit, because you took the child out of town for your sister's wedding - is only a civil violation. You can't be arrested, for that.)
You MUST file this notice in the state where you currently live. You can't wait until you get to the new state and file it there. The state where you currently live has jurisdiction over your divorce and your child. It can take up to a year, to establish residency in a new state and for that state to acquire jurisdiction over your child's custody.
Whether you need to file for divorce from the father (and, as part of your filing, declare your intention to move out of state); or whether you're already divorced - you already have primary custody - and you need to file notice of your intent to relocate and ask to modify Dad's visitation orders...there will be specific things that a court in your state must consider, in determining what's best for the child, regarding your move. You should be able to find those things online, by looking up your state's laws/guidelines regarding divorce and child custody.
In any state, the following things will matter to the judge, whether they're written into the state law, or not:
1- Does Dad WANT the child to live with him, if you move? Or does he just want to keep you here? He can't do that. To keep the child here, he has to be willing to have custody.
2- Does Dad have health, mental or other issues that would keep him from being the primary caregiver?
3- Do you have appropriate plans in place, for how you'll live and provide for the child in your new state? Where will you live? Will there be adequate space for your child? How will you make money? What will you do for childcare? What will you do for transportation to/from work and childcare? What kind of support network will you have there? Do you know anyone there besides your long-distance boyfriend? If, for example, you plan to move in with your boyfriend and let him support you, and you know no one else in the area, that might sound sketchy to a judge. If you two break up, you'd be in bad shape. Your intention to marry your boyfriend probably won't matter to the court, unless/until you actually do it. People intend to get married all the time and don't wind up doing it. And you and he will have some major changes to deal with. You'll go from a long-distance relationship to seeing each other all the time - AND he'll suddenly be helping to raise your one-year-old, which is much easier to talk about than to actually do.
4- Can you be relied upon to help your child maintain a relationship with his/her dad? It will be hard enough, long distance. If you come across as having a negative attitude toward Dad; if you have a history of blocking him from spending time with the child or being involved in special events in the child's life - or if it seems like you want to move in order to get away from Dad - a judge might worry that letting the child move away with you would destroy any relationship the child has with his/her father. Do you have a proposal for when and how Dad would see the child? How would the two of you make that work, financially? How might Dad stay in contact, between visits? Phone calls are pretty useless, for a 15-month-old. Are you and Dad able to Skype? Do you and Dad communicate reasonably well, such that the two of you could arrange visits and phone calls, without constantly having to go back to court?
Edited by VocalMinority - 1/23/14 at 3:58am